Climate change politics and the role of China: a window of opportunity to gain soft power?

  • Adrian RauchfleischEmail author
  • Mike S. Schäfer


In China today, the idea of “soft power” has become important in various realms of society. We analyze the nexus between climate change and soft power with specific emphasis on China. First, we will discuss the concept of soft power, its role in the Chinese context, and the reasons why China has had difficulties to gain soft power up to now. Second, we lay out how international climate change politics are an important arena in which soft power can be won and how the issue has gained importance in China. In a third step, we discuss how the current political environment, in which the US government has changed its stance on climate change and international climate politics, impacts China. Our thesis is that the current political situation represents a “window of opportunity” for China to expand its soft power substantially both in degree and scope. In line with this thesis, so far, China has reacted swiftly after the election of US president Donald Trump and aims to present itself as the future climate leader.


China Soft power Climate change International relations Communication 



We thank the two anonymous reviewers as well as Marko Kovic for their substantial feedback. Our article is based on a short blog post written by Adrian Rauchfleisch in January 2017:


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Copyright information

© Academy for International Communication of Chinese Culture and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate Institute of JournalismNational Taiwan UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  2. 2.ZIPAR – Zurich Institute of Public Affairs ResearchZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of Mass Communication and Media ResearchUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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