China Research Workshop 中国研究讲座 Lunch Discussion RSVP
Thursday, April 12, 2018 | 12:30-2:00 p.m. | GPS Dean's Conference Room (2nd Floor, Building 1)

"Historical Ownership, Territorial Indivisibility, and International Conflict"

Presenter: Songying Fang, Department of Political Science, Rice University

Some of the most enduring and dangerous territorial disputes often involve claims of historical ownership by at least one side of a dispute. Does historical ownership lead to more hardened bargaining positions? If it does, why? We explore these questions in this study. After developing a theoretical argument for how historical ownership may lead to a perception of territorial indivisibility, we test the hypotheses derived from the theory with a survey experiment implemented in China. We find that the historical ownership treatment increases the number of respondents who view the indivisible outcome of a hypothetical dispute as the only acceptable outcome. Furthermore, those who perceive a territory to be indivisible are more likely to favor economic sanctions and military solutions to the dispute, and much less likely to support bilateral negotiation and IO arbitration. These findings shed important insights on the effect of claims of historical ownership on territorial disputes and the danger associated with such claims.

This is co-sponsored by The Project on International Affairs Speaker Series, the International Institute, and cPASS


CRW provides a forum for the presentation of original research by China scholars from around the country in social science and humanities, sponsored by the Fudan-UC Center on Contemporary China. To view archive and upcoming workshops list, visit:

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