James Sullivan is currently a non-resident Visiting Scholar at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies and is pursuing an ALM in International Relations from Harvard Extension School. His paper analyzes China’s use of tone when addressing various security issues relevant to the Indo-Pacific region.

His paper leverages Natural Language Processing techniques applied to the GDELT database to quantify tones expressed on a variety of topics, targeting a range of both internal and external audiences. His paper show four facts: 1) China only began telling a more negative narrative regarding the United States post the beginning of the COVID pandemic in late 2019, but not prior; 2) China’s tone regarding the United States was consistent and relatively neutral across its civilian and military populations till late 2019, at which time the civilian tone became far more negative than the tone expressed to their military population; 3) XI Jinping’s tonal difference when discussing Taiwan across internal vs. external audiences is now at the highest divergence recorded; 4) Significant tonal differences are shown across various members of the previous Standing Committee. The tone for Xi Jinping has historically been the most positive but dipped into negative levels three times in 2022.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the DKI APCSS or the United States Government.