Today's Zaman: The Limits of Chinese Soft Power

June 10, 2015

Joseph S. Nye, Jr., a former US assistant secretary of defense and chairman of the US National Intelligence Council, is University Professor at Harvard University and a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the Future of Government.

China has been making major efforts to increase its ability to influence other countries without force or coercion.

In 2007, then-President Hu Jintao told the Communist Party that the country needed to increase its soft power; President Xi Jinping repeated the same message last year. They know that, for a country like China, whose growing economic and military power risks scaring its neighbors into forming counter-balancing coalitions, a smart strategy must include efforts to appear less frightening. But their soft-power ambitions still face major obstacles...

China's aid programs are often successful and constructive. Its economy is strong, and its traditional culture is widely admired. But if the country is to realize its enormous soft-power potential, it will have to rethink its policies at home and abroad, limiting its claims upon its neighbors and learning to accept criticism in order to unleash the full talents of its civil society. As long as China fans the flames of nationalism and holds tight the reins of party control, its soft power will always remain limited.

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