Religion, Culture, and Confucius Institutes in China’s Foreign Policy

Authored by: Kim-Kwong Chan , Alan Hunter

The Ashgate Research Companion to Chinese Foreign Policy

Print publication date:  July  2012
Online publication date:  April  2016

Print ISBN: 9781409422709
eBook ISBN: 9781315612812
Adobe ISBN: 9781317043904

10.4324/9781315612812.ch10

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Abstract

The perception that China should invest heavily in “soft power” has generated a number of top-level policy initiatives, as well as commentary on them by both Chinese and Western scholars, in the past five years or so (Hunter 2009; Kurlantzick 2007; Wuthnow 2008). Premier Wen Jiabao has been particularly active in promoting Chinese culture, for example making time for cultural visits and discussions during his 2010 visits to India and Italy. The most influential conceptualization of soft power is that of Nye (1990a, 2004), which basically argues that a nation’s cultural resources constitute a form of power that complements military and economic power. Soft power can encompass films, manufacturing brands, sports, education, media or music that create a positive image about a nation. Some examples might be, for the USA, the “American dream,” Hollywood, and alleged support for democracy; for Europe, art and music, tourism and soccer. Religion can also form part of the soft power assets, for example access to pilgrimage sites.

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