US, China and The Dynamics of Soft Power

US, China and The Dynamics of Soft Power

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China has jumped into the race of soft power too late; one of her preliminary courses of action was establishing Confucius Institutes in2004, aimed at enhancing the understanding of Chinese language and culture abroad. Not later, in 2007, then-president Hu Jintao officially initiated the idea of advancing Chinese culture as a core element of the country’s soft power policy, a measure that President Xi-Jinping has worked to reinforce since he took office in 2013.

The dynamics of Soft Power and Diplomacy Image © The Radical Outlook

By Ijaz Ahmad

©The Radical Outlook

A swaying approach to relations among states primarily involves monetary, cultural, or other means of soft strategies. Joseph Nye introduced soft power in late 1980; according to him, soft power is the ability to or tactics to ruins the behaviors of others to get you to want. Today is the World of soft powers games; it’s a cheap, easiest, and peaceful way for states to reach their national interests without confrontation, conflict, and wars. Since its inception, the concept quickly became recognized as an indispensable component of public diplomacy and strategic communications.  

The question, however, remains whether China’s passionate soft power strategy radically challenges the United States’ international position, particularly in light of the latter retreating from its globalist role, or if the concept will potentially kindle a sense of reciprocated understanding toward a reshaping of the global order.

Now, the traditional dimensions of US-China, like militaries and economics still on the way to get the lion’s share of world attention. But the characters of “Soft Power” for getting the World’s attention by both shouldn’t be kept ignored. Undoubtedly, the U.S. has usually nourished its supremacy as a worldly actor. During the early decades of the invention of Soft Power, the U.S. has successfully tapped all socio-cultural mediums, along with her best Ivy League education system and her rich multimedia portfolio, in establishing a broad universal appeal. American companies like Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft further expanded the country’s outreach and presence, enabling clear inroads into the everyday lives of the global citizenry.

Likewise, in the case of China, in contrast, owing to its traditional reliance on an economic and military approach to foreign affairs, China was a relatively new player in the field; all the same, it methodically actualized the soft power rationale in transforming itself into a global influencer.  Although, China was swiftly intensifying her soft power capability and pledged to go away from no stone unturned in extolling her international appeal.

China’s economic projection and soft power proficiency, usually considers parallels to the Marshall Plan. Similarly, the Belt and Road Initiative goes through to almost 71 counties and paves the way for China to integrate and further widen its socioeconomic obit regionally. Globally, Beijing has also sensed to transfer narratives about China by expanding its foreign language news bureaus and outlets, also launching partnerships with Hollywood giants like Sony Television to alter storylines via multimedia.

The question, however, remains whether China’s passionate soft power strategy radically challenges the United States’ international position, particularly in light of the latter retreating from its globalist role, or if the concept will potentially kindle a sense of reciprocated understanding toward a reshaping of the global order.

According to the global Soft Power index, consultancy Brand Finance enquired more than 50000 consumers in 87 countries to rank countries in terms of their familiarity, reputation, and influence, among other measures.

The U.S. put in the above with China, Germany, UK, Japan, France, Switzerland, Sweden, and Russia. The U.S. was ranked highly by the appellant in stints of her sway in entertainment, media, sport, and science.

 But during the Trump administration and still, the U.S.’ status, governance, and political stability are seen less positively by people thorough out the globe. Likewise, the mixed international reception of controversies surrounding President Trump’s administration is likely to be the reason behind comparatively lower ratings for reputation.

According to a report recently, the U.S. put 13th for reputation, 12th for ethical values, 19th for political standards, and 44th for associations with the globe. Similarly, in the survey, people also ranked it low for climate action, like 28th and 23rd for reliability.

Similarly, the pull out of the Paris Agreement on climate change and Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iranian nuclear policy by America’s unilaterally decisions could negatively demoralize the nation’s reliability. In the same way, the ex-President’s (Trump) impeachment case also had a negative cause for the U.S. soft reflection.

Although, in the case of China, it is being a new actor in the field of “Soft Power”, is the nexus of change for global political, economic, and social order. Western democracies can no longer rely on the end-of-history assumption that liberal values have won globally. However, the idea of Soft Power should not exclusively be viewed through the prism of the contest. The speculation that global powers like China and the U.S. may stand to gain from a mutual attitude toward soft power is not entirely impossible to conceive.

On the other hand, China has jumped into the race of soft power too late; one of her preliminary courses of action was establishing Confucius Institutes in2004, aimed at enhancing the understanding of Chinese language and culture abroad. Not later, in 2007, then-president Hu Jintao officially initiated the idea of advancing Chinese culture as a core element of the country’s soft power policy, a measure that President Xi-Jinping has worked to reinforce since he took office in 2013.

Likewise, following his aim of making China great again, Xi initiated the highly ambitious BRI, which promises to perpetuate China’s economic projection and soft power proficiency, usually considers parallels to the Marshall Plan. Similarly, the Belt and Road Initiative goes through to almost 71 counties and paves the way for China to integrate and further widen its socioeconomic obit regionally. Globally, Beijing has also sensed to transfer narratives about China by expanding its foreign language news bureaus and outlets, also launching partnerships with Hollywood giants like Sony Television to alter storylines via multimedia. Arguably, China’s soft power aspiration leverages a widening sense of present-day international resentment toward the U.S. Similarly, Beijing continues to use up billions of dollars, almost $10 billion per annum, to nurture a positive international image for itself and invites more players into its economic peripheries.

China’s growing clout sets the stage for a new world order; nonetheless, no power is infallible or free of limitations. China’s attentions to taking on global activism vis-à-vis the Belt and Road Initiative is recurrently viewed by concerns as an autocratic move, which is bound to leave its partner nations gravely indebted. Together with investment accuracy and transparency concerns and China’s hard line on nationalism, these critics serve to gainsay its soft power model. Similarly, China’s policies for peace evolving into the modern World through institutions like community with shared future and Confucius are vital in her soft power.

The US-China Clean Energy Research Center (CERC) and the U.S. China Social and Cultural Dialogue (SCD) are fitting illustrations of how the two have constructively cooperated in the past to address global environmental concerns and social development issues. In sum and substance, they may communally wield Soft Power in addressing some of the most pressing global challenges prevalent today.

In conclusion, soft power cannot be hurriedly achieved, not lost. The U.S. has shown that ultimately, notwithstanding the reputational challenges of impeachment and unpredictable foreign policy, its position as the rule-maker in the global system is unrivaled. Likewise, the U.S. liberal values, cultural and nongovernmental resources are still broadly recognized, and its democratic foundation eclipses its counterpart’s despotic tone. In this way, U.S. soft power has shown much buoyancy and despite the apprehensions toward its hard power-directed foreign policy, the U.S. dream still retains its worldwide appeal.

Although, in the case of China, it is being a new actor in the field of “Soft Power”, is the nexus of change for global political, economic, and social order. Western democracies can no longer rely on the end-of-history assumption that liberal values have won globally. However, the idea of Soft Power should not exclusively be viewed through the prism of the contest. The speculation that global powers like China and the U.S. may stand to gain from a mutual attitude toward soft power is not entirely impossible to conceive.

Through greater accessibility of interactive channels and incorporation of recourses, china and the U.S. can supplement humanitarian aid, widen academic opportunities by the heartening exchange at a global scale, and provide a unilateral front at forums such as U.N. and the G20 on matters of international security and jurisdiction. The US-China Clean Energy Research Center (CERC) and the U.S. China Social and Cultural Dialogue (SCD) are fitting illustrations of how the two have constructively cooperated in the past to address global environmental concerns and social development issues. In sum and substance, they may communally wield Soft Power in addressing some of the most pressing global challenges prevalent today.

The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect our Editorial Policy


Author

Mr. Ijaz Ahmed is a writer Pursuing Mphil in International Relations from NUML University Islamabad, He can be reached at eng.ijaz658@gmail.com


Republishing is allowed with a copyright credit to © The Radical Outlook

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The Radical Outlook

The Radical Outlook is an online news web Portal designed for in-depth news analysis from the Eurasian region and beyond. It is Founded by a geopolitical analyst Shahzada Rahim.
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