Is China really making progress in soft power? | Politics News | SupChina

Is China really making progress in soft power?

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Here are several stories that show contradicting trends in China’s global influence:

  • China’s clout has grown for the second year in a row, according to an annual report called the “Soft Power 30 Index” that rates countries based on their influence and reputation in government, culture, education, global engagement, enterprise, and digital affairs. China now ranks as the world’s 25th most influential country — by non-military criteria — while the U.S. slid down to number three after France and the U.K. as Trump became president.
  • But the Financial Times released the results (paywall) of an investigation into China’s efforts to export its high-speed rail technology and brand China as a benevolent country seeking to connect the world through its Belt and Road Initiative. The FT found that “failed schemes, and some that are under way, have stoked suspicion, public animosity and mountains of debt in countries that Beijing had hoped to woo.”
  • One area that China’s rise continues unabated is in military technology. The Wall Street Journal reports (paywall) on “growing evidence that military drones exported by China have recently been deployed in conflicts in the Mideast and Africa by several countries, including U.S. allies that the U.S. blocked from buying American models.”
  • But military technology is not soft power. For more on China’s “soft power,” and to hear from the man who coined that term, listen to a recent Sinica Podcast with Joseph Nye, Jr.

Lucas Niewenhuis

Lucas Niewenhuis is an associate editor at SupChina who helps curate daily news and produce the company's newsletter, app, and website content. Previously, Lucas researched China-Africa relations at the Social Science Research Council and interned at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He has studied Chinese language and culture in Shanghai and Beijing, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.