Erin Baggott - 2023
Erin Baggott Carter (赵雅芬) is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Southern California and a Hoover Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. She is also a non-resident scholar at the UCSD 21st Century China Center. She has previously held fellowships at Stanford's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law and Center for International Security and Cooperation. She received a Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University.
Dr. Carter's research focuses on Chinese politics and propaganda. Her first book, Propaganda in Autocracies (Cambridge University Press, 2023) explores how political institutions determine propaganda strategies with an original dataset of eight million articles in six languages drawn from state-run newspapers in nearly 70 countries. Her current book project, Changing Each Other: US-China Relations in the Shadow of Domestic Politics, argues that China and the United States are not inevitably destined for conflict, but their domestic politics make it more likely, and so both governments seek security by changing the other from within. Her other work has appeared or is forthcoming in the British Journal of Political Science, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Security Studies, International Interactions, China Quarterly, and Foreign Affairs. Her work has been featured by a number of media platforms, including the New York Times and the Little Red Podcast.
Her research has been supported by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, the Smith Richardson Foundation, the Center for International Studies at the University of Southern California, the Weatherhead Center for Inter-national Affairs at Harvard University, the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University, and the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University.
Dr. Carter's Google Scholar profile is here. She can be reached via email at baggott [at] usc.edu or ebaggott [at] stanford.edu and by Twitter at @baggottcarter.
Changing Each Other: US-China Relations in the Shadow of Domestic Politics
This book project argues that domestic politics in China and the US have consistently destabilized the bilateral relationship and made each side less secure. In China, when economic downturns threaten the leader's popularity, he initiates diversionary conflict with the United States. In the United States, legislators face electoral incentives to engage in "China bashing," which elicits hostility while failing to secure meaningful change in Chinese trade policies, military behavior, or domestic repression. To blunt these destabilizing factors, Beijing lobbies members of Congress to secure more favorable US foreign policy toward China. It courts American journalists to generate a climate of discourse that is more favorable to China's rise. Washington employs its own influence programs: Voice of America (VOA) radio broadcasts and elite exchange programs that foster demands for democracy. The two sides are locked in a struggle to improve their national security environments by meddling in each other's domestic politics.
This book project marshals a range of original evidence to support this argument. It employs a day-level dataset of US-China interactions from 1949 to the present that includes events as minor as diplomatic letters and as significant as nuclear weapons tests. It records US assessments of China drawn from 100,000 pages of Freedom of Information Act requests, including newly declassified documents from the Clinton administration. It assembles detailed records on congressional China policy, American media coverage of China, and Chinese lobbying in the United States. It pairs simulations of VOA's broadcast range in China with data on local protests. Finally, it explores the writings of Chinese Fulbright scholars before and after their time in the United States. The analysis shows that though conflict between China and the United States occurs beneath the level of a "Thucydides Trap" that destines them for war, that conflict is still profound: over the nature of their foreign policy and who determines it.