No! We are rock solid! GR…! [manly roar + beats chest, then rips off T-shirt]
Whenever I get into a debate with most Chinese, on how China needs to improve its standing with the international world, by improving its own image through actual reform and practices, to set a good example for the world, this seems to bewilder them. “Why should we impress everyone else? They should be glad we haven’t attacked them, because we have morals!” is usually their attitude. And yes, threatening someone with attack is a great way to move on with a conversation. It seems the idea of “Soft Power” is completely elusive to the Chinese Public.
For more information on soft power:
As the World Trade Center towers crumpled on Sept. 11, 2001, Americans turned to each other and asked in bewilderment, “Why do they hate us?” For a nation that was used to being admired and envied, to be detested came as a shock. US politicians who liked to say America was the country everyone loves to criticize and everyone wants to migrate to now asked, “Where has the US gone wrong?” Had it failed to promote itself positively abroad?
Into this self-questioning fray stepped Joseph Nye with his 2004 book, Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics. Nye had been developing the idea at Harvard University since 1990, but for most Americans, soft power was a radically new concept. Nye proposed attracting other states through diplomacy, rather than coercing them with force or buying their compliance with sanctions, money or weapons. The discourse on soft power quickly took off and spread around the world, proving translatable into many languages, including Chinese. In 2007, President Hu Jintao urged his country to increase its deployment of soft power, which it successfully did at the Beijing Olympics, though perhaps less so during the worldwide torch relay that preceded it.
UPDATE October 28, 2012
A perfect example of how soft power for China has failed:
When China’s nearest neighbors, Mongolia and North Korea would much rather deal with Russia, then this may need to be looked at. Then of course, if North Korea and Mongolia need to rely on China, then there’s not much need for soft power for now. Down the road? I guess China and its neighbors will cross that bridge when it gets there.
COROLLARY: January 23, 2012
In 1990, Harvard professor Joseph Nye developed the concept of soft power as a way to preserve US power in a changing world…
Thomas Friedman formalized this dual approach with his corollary to Nye’s theory: that the soft power of McDonald’s needs the hard power of McDonnell Douglas to be successful. The United States should strive to preserve its unipolar position in the world, Friedman argued, with a hidden fist to complement the hidden hand of the market. China’s approach to the South China Sea is simply an Asian version of this US strategy.