China’s Soft Power

Sheng Ding

in Chinese Studies

ISBN: 9780199920082
Published online August 2018 | | DOI:
China’s Soft Power

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  • East Asian Studies
  • Asian History
  • East Asian Philosophy
  • East Asian Religions


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The concept of “China’s soft power” has become increasingly accepted and studied in the fields of contemporary Chinese politics and international relations. In early 1990s, the Harvard Professor Joseph Nye Jr. initially coined the term “soft power” and illustrated it in his works as a conceptual approach to understanding US foreign policy. Since then, many China scholars and observers around the world have applied Nye’s concept of soft power to studying China’s national power as well as its foreign policy. During the early 21st century, the political leaders in Beijing have officially incorporated the concept of China’s soft power into their strategies for national development and international relations. Nowadays, the concept of “China’s soft power” is ubiquitous in China’s government papers and media, and its conceptualization and applications have gone beyond the traditional foreign policy domain. It is obvious that China’s soft power has departed from Nye’s original concept and become an established concept in the disciplines of China studies and international relations. As a rising power that struggles for its new international status, China has increasingly sought to develop and wield its soft power to advance its agenda and interests in global affairs. However, the consensus on the effectiveness of China’s soft power has yet to be reached among China scholars and observers around the world. On the one hand, some doubt whether Beijing has genuinely developed and wielded its soft power given the country’s lack of political reform and respect for human rights as well as its fast-growing military budget and constantly assertive foreign policy behavior. On the other hand, many have observed the growing evidence pointing to the effectiveness of China’s soft power—its abilities to utilize its attractiveness and agenda-setting capacities to shape the outcomes of some specific global issues and influence the policies of many developing countries. This article will review the conceptualization of China’s soft power as well as related policy discussions. Second, it will document those important analyses of how China has developed and wielded its soft power to strengthen its international communication, broaden international cultural exchange, increase its participations in global governance, handle its new power status amid great power politics, deepen its multilateral diplomacy in East Asia, and boost its trade and investment in the Global South.

Article.  7658 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Studies ; Asian History ; East Asian Philosophy ; East Asian Religions

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