Category Archives: National Power

China’s Ideological ‘Soft War’: Offense is the Best Defense

Beijing regularly reminds us that its foreign policy eschews the export of ideology and meddling in the political affairs of other countries. According to its concept of “peaceful development,” China has no intention of exporting ideology or seeking world hegemony, nor does it seek to change or subvert the current international order. In the same breath, Beijing frequently chides the United States as a serial offender in exporting ideology to shore up its international hegemony as the world’s dominant superpower.

China sees itself as the target of powerful Western political, military and media efforts to pursue neoliberal strategies of ideological world dominance.

Beijing thus purports to maintain a defensive posture in relation to the export of ideology by other actors and the United States in particular. It articulates this in terms of safeguarding its “ideological security” against “ideological and cultural infiltration.”

Beijing characterizes its strategic intentions as mainly “inward-looking” while the United States’ are “outward-looking.” Thus, their strategic intentions do not clash (China Daily, September 9, 2013). While this inward versus outward characterisation appears prima facie to suggest a non-competitive arrangement, reality suggests otherwise. In addition to its defensive ideological posture—and as much as Beijing might state otherwise—there is an “outward-looking” element to this posture. While there exists no evidence that Beijing is exporting ideology for the purpose of universalizing its political values, there is evidence that it is doing so to safeguard its own ideological security in the face of a US-led “soft war.”

By examining Chinese discourse on the subject, this paper examines the extent to which Beijing is exporting its ideology to shore up support abroad, most notably among non-Western developing nations. To this end, it will be shown that Beijing is maneuvering to put its worldview forward as an alternative to the ideological hegemony of the West… read more of this article in the Jamestown Foundation’s China Brief

Better City Better Life

Shanghai 2010 World Expo promoted China and its culture to the world

Does Soft Power Matter?

US political scientist Joseph Nye claims that the leaders of China and Russia just don’t get his concept of “soft power.”

In an article published in Foreign Policy in April, he reminds us that soft power springs from individuals, the private sector and civil society. China and Russia, Professor Nye points out, “make the mistake of thinking that government is the main instrument of soft power.”

Clearly there is dissonance between Nye’s soft power and the strategies followed by Beijing and Moscow in their respective pursuits of it. But are they all talking about the same “soft power?”… read more (this post published as an opinion piece “Success of China’s soft power campaign can’t be gauged by rich countries” in Global Times)