Potter on Political Violence in China

by Casey Fischl

Philip Potter discussed his research paper, “Political Violence in China: Terrorism, Official Media, and Political Priorities,” during the January 15, 2019 PIPE Workshop. His research focuses on terrorism and counterterrorism in China, to answer the question of why it is critical that the United States begins to pay more attention to the current state of affairs in China. With Eastern China bordering highly volatile and militant regions in the Middle East, Potter asserts that a terrorist event in China could have serious global impacts similar to the 9/11 terrorist attack.

China’s prominent counterterrorism strategy is information suppression. Potter’s research focuses on the official acknowledgment of incidents by the Chinese government. The expectation is that the party will only allow for prompt coverage of militant violence in the official media when both domestic and international conditions are favorable. He also found that the reporting on nonfatal, failed attacks is much less likely than highly successful, lethal ones.

Potter is an Associate Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia specializing in foreign policy and international relations. Additionally, he is the principal investigator for a Department of Defense Minerva Initiative project to map and analyze collaborative relationships between terrorist organizations. He was a fellow at Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania and holds degrees from UCLA and McGill University.