Cultural Diplomacy & the Expansion of Chinese Soft Power

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Janus Lysgaard
The following thesis contains an analysis of the role that China’s cultural diplomacy efforts play in the expansion of Chinese soft power in the U.S., as well as a theoretically based assessment of the effectiveness of these initiatives. Political scientist Joseph Nye argues that the importance of coercive forces, or ‘hard power’, is on a rapid decline in international relations, and instead contends the notion that states acquiring foreign policy goals through attraction, or ‘soft power’, is becoming an increasingly significant strategy. China has acknowledged this growing importance and they have spent billions in the past decade on improving their soft power through instruments of cultural diplomacy. This thesis focuses on China’s initiatives in the U.S., which include the vast expansion of Chinese media, the immense Chinese investment in the Hollywood film industry, and the establishment of the Confucius Institutes (CI).
In order to analyze the role and effectiveness of these initiatives, the theories of ‘soft power’ and ‘cultural diplomacy’ have been utilized. The theory of ‘soft power’ has been included with the objective of obtaining a better comprehension of the motivation behind China’s immense investment in its global soft power initiatives. The theory of ‘cultural diplomacy’ has been selected in order to analyze the different elements that can act as a hindrance to the desired production of soft power and thus influence the effectiveness of the initiatives e.g. when the target audience will view the instruments of cultural diplomacy as being means of propaganda.
The analysis of the following thesis will initially provide the background for China’s growing interest in the concept of ‘soft power’, as well as provide an analysis of the motivation behind China’s recently established cultural diplomacy initiatives in the U.S. The three subsequent chapters will each focus on one of China’s instruments of cultural diplomacy. These chapters will each be divided into two sections: one providing the sufficient background knowledge related to the respective initiative; and one focusing on analyzing the related controversies, as well as providing an assessment of the effectiveness of each initiative in relation to the production of Chinese soft power in the U.S. The final chapter of the analysis will provide a brief evaluation of the effectiveness of the three cultural diplomacy initiatives before finally heading to the conclusion of the thesis.
The following thesis argues that China’s cultural diplomacy efforts do hold the potential of playing a significant role in the expansion of Chinese soft power in the U.S., but it also acknowledges the fact that a heavy interference by the Chinese government in relation to the execution of the various initiatives may act counterproductively and thereby function as a hindrance in regard to the desired production of China’s soft power.
Publication date31 May 2018
Number of pages59
ID: 280187369