Building China’s Soft Power for a Peaceful Rise

Abstract

With its rapid economic growth and deepening integration into the global system, Chinese leaders see the first 20 years of the 21st century as an ‘important period of strategic opportunity’ for China. China under Hu Jintao’s leadership has chosen a new path of peaceful rise. To facilitate such a peaceful rise, Chinese Communist Party has gradually adopted a soft power strategy. We see building soft power as a means as well as the end of China’s peaceful rise. We argue China has a genuine desire for peace in her rise and China’s peaceful rise may not be impossible. Based on existing literature, we expand the sources of soft power to six pillars: cultural attractiveness, political values, development model, international institutions, international image, and economic temptation. We also identify three channels for wielding soft power: formal, economic, and cultural diplomacies. Putting all the basics together, we have proposed an integrative model of soft power. Accordingly, we analyze the sources and limits of China’s soft power and suggest how to improve it in these six areas.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    See, Jiang Zemin’s Report to the 16th Party Congress, November 8, 2002. http://news.xinhuanet.com/ziliao/2002-11/17/content_693542.htm

  2. 2.

    Source: People’s Daily, August, 30, 2004. http://www.people.com.cn/GB/14576/14554/2751683.html

  3. 3.

    See, Deng Xiaoping’s Speech at the Special Session of the U.N. General Assembly on April 10, 1974. http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/deng-xiaoping/1974/04/10.htm

  4. 4.

    See, Jiang Zemin’s Report to the 16th Party Congress

  5. 5.

    Hu Jintao first announced the idea of building a harmonious world in his speech to the Summit on UN’s 60th anniversary on September 16, 2005. http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/ce/ceun/eng/zt/shnh60/t212614.htm

  6. 6.

    This is not to deny the protective role of a military force which Joseph Nye also regards relevant. See Nye [4, p. 160].

  7. 7.

    Nye, Joseph. S. 2006. ‘Think again: Soft power’.

  8. 8.

    Nye, J. S. 2006. ‘Think again: Soft power’.

  9. 9.

    Nye, Joseph. S. 2006. ‘Think again: Soft power’.

  10. 10.

    This is clearly reflected in Huang et al. [22].

  11. 11.

    See Drezner [47].

  12. 12.

    http://english.hanban.edu.cn/content.php?id=3622

  13. 13.

    http://www.cnci.gov.cn/content\2009517/news_46247.shtml

  14. 14.

    See, Outline of National Plan for Cultural Development during the Eleventh Five Year Plan Period (国家十一五时期文化发展规划纲要). http://culture.people.com.cn/GB/22226/71018/index.html

  15. 15.

    For example, see Nathan [43].

  16. 16.

    Yu, Keping. 2008. Democracy and political progress in China (摘录于原载于北京日报的俞可平文‘思想解放与政治进步’, excerpts from Yu Keping’s article published in Beijing Daily, September 17). http://www.china.org.cn/english/congress/229019.htm

  17. 17.

    Pursuing common security through dialogue and cooperation is the essence of China’s New Security Concept stated in ‘China’s Position Paper on the New Security Concept’, an official document submitted by the Chinese delegation On 31 July 2002 to the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). http://www.mfa.gov.cn/eng/wjb/zzjg/gjs/gjzzyhy/2612/2614/t15319.htm

  18. 18.

    There is an interesting recent article to read. See Powell [48].

  19. 19.

    Cited in Wesley-Smith [36, p. 21].

  20. 20.

    http://www.gov.cn/jrzg/2009-11/20/content_1469567.htm

  21. 21.

    http://news.xinhuanet.com/fortune/2009-09/24/content_12108004.htm

  22. 22.

    In contrast, the US government was accused by the People’s Health Movement as being racist, callous and careless of its own people during the Hurrican Katrina in 2005. See, ‘Hurricane Katrina survivors need relief, not guns’, http://www.phmovement.org/en/node/75. For example, US government officials like Federal emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown and Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff both have blamed the Hurricane victims themselves for not obey the government’s order of evacuation.

  23. 23.

    See, Countdown begins for China’s naval parade, People’s Daily, April 14, 2009. http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90776/90786/6636723.html

  24. 24.

    See, Chinese navy: needs public relations (中国海军: 做得好还要说得好), International Herald Leader (国际先驱导报), September 22, 2009. http://news.xinhuanet.com/herald/2009-05/22/content_11417447.htm

  25. 25.

    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-10/16/content_12244016.htm

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Acknowledgement

Xin Li thanks Danish Otto Monsted Fond for its financial support for participating and presenting an earlier draft of this paper at the conference China’s 30 years of ‘Opening up and reform’: Continuities and Change, held in University of Nottingham Ningbo China, 16–19 September 2009. He also thanks Danish EAC Foundation for sponsoring his PhD study at Copenhagen Business School.

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Li, X., Worm, V. Building China’s Soft Power for a Peaceful Rise. J OF CHIN POLIT SCI 16, 69–89 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11366-010-9130-2

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Keywords

  • Peaceful Rise
  • Soft Power
  • China
  • Development Model
  • Beijing Consensus
  • Culture