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Authors: Wang, Lindie
Advisors: Flaherty, Martin
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2014
Abstract: This year marks the 35th anniversary of official relations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China. During this time, China has become a major international player, and U.S. foreign policy toward China has become increasingly critical. The three primary areas of contention are trade, human rights, and security. One major decision-maker in this relationship is the U.S. Congress, a conduit for the voice of sub-state actors and an important shaper of foreign policy. This thesis looks behind the scenes to explore and test a theory of Congressional voting behavior as a way to look at Sino-American relations and evaluate international relations theory. It makes and tests a liberal assumption that domestic factors can influence foreign policy. The study identifies Congressional motivations by testing whether a member of the House of Representatives will vote in favor of fair trade, human rights, and the bolstering of U.S. defense based on three sets of variables. The first set, funding sources, is expected to impact trade and consists of: 1) percentage (%) of political action campaign (PAC) contributions from corporations and 2) % from labor groups. The second set, constituency make-up, is expected to impact all China-related issues and consists of: 3) % high skilled workers, 4) % unemployed working population, and 5) % population 25+ with a four-year college degree in each district. The third set, representatives’ personal ideology, is expected to impact human rights and consists of: 6) the DWnominate score and 7) the party affiliation of each representative. A representative who votes in favor of free trade is classified as a liberalist; one who votes in favor of human rights is classified as a constructivist; and one who votes in favor of U.S. security and defense is classified as a realist. In practical terms, this thesis first finds that the percentage of high skilled workers and college degree holders are highly statistically significant. After breaking issues into the three sub-categories, the study further finds that labor PAC contribution becomes statistically significant for all three areas, high skilled workers are no longer significant for human rights issues, DW-nominate becomes significant for trade and human rights issues, and unemployment becomes significant for human rights and security issues. These findings establish a model through which political groups can predict how a representative will vote, which can then inform them of ways they might be able to sway a vote in their favor. Theoretically, the study supports the liberal school and finds that, under the liberal assumption, whether a representative votes in a realist, liberal, or constructivist way is dependent upon the district.
Extent: 140 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2017

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