Beijing issued a harsh rebuke of Western critics who accuse China of using soft power as a vehicle to infiltrate other countries, as it kicked off its biggest political event of the year on Friday, The South China Morning Post reports:
The country’s top advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, hit out against depictions of its campaign to build a positive global image as “sharp power”, a term describing the way authoritarian states project influence abroad….. It follows growing wariness over Chinese money and influence around the world, which US think tank the National Endowment for Democracy called an example of “sharp power”. In Australia in particular, tensions have risen over suspicions that Beijing is wielding outsized influence in the country, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull saying in December it would “stand up” against it.
“It is not the first time that people have tried to smear China, and it will not be the last time,” Wang Guoqing, CPPCC spokesman, said at a briefing in Beijing ahead of the opening of its annual session on Saturday.
“When other countries engage in cultural exchanges, they are showing soft or smart power, but when it comes to China, it’s sharp power with motives.” RTWT
To counter China’s sharp power, Western societies should seek to shed light on links between independent foundations, even student groups, and the Chinese state, The Australian suggests.
Xi Jinping’s Ideological Ambitions
World communism isn’t Beijing’s goal, but it is encouraging the spread of authoritarianism, says the Lowy Institute’s Richard McGregor, author of The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers. China’s rivalry with the U.S. is not the same as the Soviet Union’s competition during the Cold War, which pitted capitalism against Marxism. Beijing formally follows the dictates of Marxism-Leninism, but its ideology is one of state power, he writes for The Wall Street Journal:
Although China has always been ready to support other autocracies when doing so was in its interest, Mr. Xi’s party is now touting itself forcefully as an example of a governing system that works. It is a pity, then, that America’s political system remains in such upheaval. Rarely has the soft power of a thriving democracy been more needed.