Revealing narratives censored by China’s soft power


Credit: SCMP

In light of China’s ongoing violations of human rights, activists are revealing a narrative often censored or self-censored as a result of pressure from the regime’s soft power, reports suggest.

Over the past few years, the view that China has become a more sophisticated wielder of soft power has gained traction, China Digital Times reports:

Specialists focusing on Chinese efforts to influence foreign journalists and media outlets, international internet governance forums, and Hollywood productions have separately documented the ways that these avenues of control have developed to align with the state’s goals. Through a recent report with the Center for International Media Assistance at the National Endowment for Democracy, “Beyond the Great Firewall: How China Became a Global Information Power,” Director of the NED’s International Forum for Democratic Studies Shanthi Kalathil has been the first to analyze all three of these spheres of influence in tandem, arguing that they signify a long-term vision for expanding Chinese soft power. Kalathil discussed findings from the report with CDT. RTWT

But China’s soft power appeal is lacking, as the regime lacks the ideological (and other) attributes of a superpower, analyst Deng Yuwen writes for the South China Morning Post:

  • First, economic power, which is the foundation of all other conditions. Only when a country has a strong enough economy and a broad domestic market can it become a marketplace for the rest of the world, for both raw materials and finished goods. In this way, economic dependence grows. …
  • Second, military power. This is hard power, and a pillar for hegemony. A country’s economic strength can only go so far. In fact, a country with a strong economy but weak military may even be bullied by the major powers. ./..
  • Third, ideology and values. This is soft power, and equally necessary to a global leader. A country can claim leadership with just economic and military power, but not for long. In the past, powerful countries suffered a cataclysmic decline because their values failed to resonate with the rest of the world. Ideology and values serve as the lubricant of a hegemon, because they persuade people to buy in to the system. This is particularly important in today’s world, where universal values are rooted deeply in people’s minds.
  • Fourth, the ability to provide public goods. A world leader needs to provide public goods to be recognised as such. The public goods here mainly refer to the international system and the global order, and the rules to uphold them. ….
  • Fifth, alliances. Even a supremely strong country will find it difficult to maintain the global order and its own pre-eminence in the long run by itself. So the forging of allies is critical. ….


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