The Beauty Trap: Chinese Theories of “Soft Power”

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Currently there are a lot of definitions and conceptions of “soft power” in the world’s scientific literature. The English-language works mainly adopted the term “soft power”, terminology is also varied in Chinese historiography: “ruan shili”, “ruan liliang” and “ruan quanli” (软实力, 软力量and 软权力). A variety of terms is reflected in the variety of interpretations of the system or mechanismof “soft power”, that allows us to conclude that at the moment there is noformed unified vision and approach to its study. The subject of this study is the Russian and foreign theories of “soft power” in relation to China's foreign policy. The author raised a number of tasks, among which are: to determine the place a policy of “soft power” in the foreign policy of China, to analyze the existing interpretation of the concept of “soft power with Chinese characteristics”, as well as trace the development of theories of “soft power”. As a result of the research the author comes to the conclusion that despite the difference in interpretations, there are a lot of common aspects, including the idea of the majority of researchers that the concept is directly related to the influence of the subject to the object, and that the main instruments of “soft power” are humanitarian cooperation, investment, dialogue at the highest level, and others. But the combination of numerous non-military elements within the same term “soft power” doesn’t form a unified, approved concept. Different countries have their own unique system of soft power, and its instruments, key elements and basic principles are not the same. For example, talking about “attractiveness” applied to Chinese soft power, we can conclude, that it is only the tip of the iceberg. This study allows not only to form an idea of the “soft power” through the prism of various scientific researches, but also to identify the key elements of the system, as well as alternative ways of applying the policy of “soft power” and options for its increase.

About the authors

Evgenia Vladimirovna Zhuravleva

Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia

Author for correspondence.

Department of Theory and History of International Relations


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Copyright (c) 2016 Журавлева Е.В.

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