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Chinese-style soft power

epa05719271 China's President Xi Jinping addresses the Swiss house of parliament in Bern, Switzerland, 15 January 2017. President Xi is on a state visit to Switzerland from 15 to 18 January. EPA/PETER KLAUNZER / POOL POOL

Submitted by Juris Paiders…

US soft power once meant that the rest of the world dreamt of living like Americans. Recently, soft power is something attributed to China as well, but as much as all of us use Chinese-produced goods, no one really wishes to live in China. Upon closer inspection, China’s soft power is nothing more than lazily hidden strong power, i.e. attempts to achieve economic, political and military dominance through the use of force.

In response to China’s rapid economic growth, the establishment of networks of economic cooperation and its increased role on the global political stage, many political experts are tempted to talk about China’s soft power. However, most often they must talk about aggressive tactics employed by China that has nothing to do with the true meaning of soft power.

The wealth acquired by the Chinese through hard work began to worry the West when it became clear that China has aspirations to become a global superpower. China has the second largest defense budget, although it makes up only a third of that of the US. China has many trade partners, but they often complain that China tries to force unfair rules. Former US president Donald Trump began a trade war with China, and the EU has also accused China of favoring protectionism instead of a competition-based system. When in 2018 Canada, after a request by the US, detained Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, China responded by detaining several Canadians, although Huawei denied having any ties to the Chinese government.

China has territorial claims in the South China Sea, of which it reminds by holding military exercises and causing tensions in the region.

What concerns China’s soft power, the usual suspects are the Confucius Institutes, which have been established all over the globe, and the Belt and Road Initiative. Another soft outlet of influence is China’s participation in international organization. However, if we look closer at each of them, none can be considered soft power instruments.

The Confucius Institutes teach not only the Chinese language, but also the Chinese government’s worldview. Professors in the US, Canada and Europe have urged to close the Confucius Institutes that operate in their universities, saying that they restrict academic freedom.

There have also been allegations that the Chinese Embassy has attempted to disrupt meetings between Latvian and Tibetan representatives. Former head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Latvian Saeima (parliament) Ojārs Ēriks Kalniņš revealed that in 2015, after a protest phone call from the Chinese ambassador, he tried to convince his colleagues not to welcome the Tibetan delegation in the Saeima. In 2013, after “instructions from higher authorities” posters advertising Dalai Lama’s lectures were removed from Riga International Airport, and since 2010 Latvia’s highest officials – president and the prime minister – have not officially met with Dalai Lama. The Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises officials not to meet with Dalai Lama or ministers of the Central Tibetan Administration, as confirmed by Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkēvičs.

Many nations cooperate with China, but quite often they complain about China enforcing unfair conditions. This is a state-level policy – to further economic relations with numerous countries, at the same time imposing different restrictions and obstacles against them in order to tip the scales economic benefit in China’s favor.

Nevertheless, none of this can hide the ugliness of China’s communist regime in the eyes of other nations, especially at a time when China is suspected of withholding information on the true extent of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country, after the outbreak in Wuhan in 2019. Moreover, China is also being accused of Uyghur genocide, with more and more information on this issue coming to light in recent years.

Authoritarian regimes in their essence are incompatible with true soft power, as it’s three main pillars are an attractive culture, political values and a morally just foreign policy, and the only thing China has is an attractive culture. To compensate for the lack of benign political values and foreign policy, China employs means that cannot be considered part of the arsenal of soft power.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.

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mijj
mijj
March 8, 2021

cut to the core. US core behavior is mass murder, terrorism, subversion and looting. China’s core behavior is to free people from poverty and ill health, and infrastructure building. Let’s hope the US continually withers in power and China continues to blossom.

Nichole N. Sampson
Nichole N. Sampson
March 8, 2021

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Clarity
Clarity
March 8, 2021
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“no one really wishes to live in China” tell that to all the western entrepreneurs who flock to Shenzhen where product development is done in about a third of the time and far less cost than any place in the west. Never mind all the other opportunists that are still flocking to China. China has about one million immigrants and 50 million visitors per year. The reason why there are not more westerners in China is because the Chinese legal system is not set up for it the same way as in the west. And why should it be, the… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Clarity
FranBrown
FranBrown
Reply to  Clarity
March 8, 2021

Brilliant- thank you. America needs calling out. Well done.

Black Picard
Reply to  Clarity
March 10, 2021

Excellent comment there, Clarity! This YouTube video by an American expat who has lived in China drives your many points home. ======== Does Freedom in China Exist? 中国有自由吗? This is one of the most common myths surrounding China today. Unfortunately many foreigners don’t fully understand that most Chinese people do in fact feel a great sense of “freedom”. I think it’s important to understand that freedoms are subjective and mean different things to different people. Enjoy this video as we discuss more about freedom in both America and China and as always try to find common ground between the two… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Black Picard
Sally Snyder
Sally Snyder
March 8, 2021

Here is an article that looks at Xi Jinping’s roadmap for the new global multipolar reality:

https://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2021/01/chinas-roadmap-for-new-multipolar.html

 it is clear that China wants to implement a new geopolitical reality in the world, one where China shares in global leadership and puts an end, for once and for all, to Washington’s unipolar world.

Gearóid O hAghmail
Gearóid O hAghmail
March 8, 2021

He should look to the systematic discrimination against the ethnic Russian people of his own country and the other Baltic states all aided and abetted by the EU.

Vera Gottlieb
Vera Gottlieb
March 8, 2021

Perhaps time has come for the West to realize/admit that there are regions on this planet that set examples of a more peaceful way of doing things.

FreeSpeechFan
March 8, 2021
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Excellent article! I expect the trolls to hit these types of articles. Many news providers are sponsored/paid by the CCP to create friendly propaganda. It is part of the propaganda war!

Verymuchalive
Verymuchalive
Reply to  FreeSpeechFan
March 8, 2021

Just like the State of Israel does likewise. There’s no difference between these 2 malefactors.

Philopolymath
Philopolymath
March 9, 2021

I am WASP native of Ottawa Canada yet actually LIVED In China, I speak Mandarin well, I designed and assembled my own factory and assembly line and made chemical products in volume. I dealt with MANY Chinese state officials of local and national rank almost daily on a wide range of affairs political,finance. I LIVED at my backwoods factory and kept and Apt. at the local big city of Quanzhou in Fujian Prov. I employed many locals brought in skilled and experienced mature staff for the chemistry legal etc. I ate and shopped locally and organized coached and equipped sports… Read more »

ian
ian
March 10, 2021

and the US doesn’t give me a break this hypocrisy is unbelievable

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