Introduction: The Soft Edges of China's Hard Power

Jarmila Ptáčková, Ondřej Klimeš, Gary Rawnsley

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedingBook Chapterpeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    The cultural and public diplomacy of many countries allows for or solicits the involvement of actors that are not controlled by the state but can have a significant influence on the image-building of a society or a country. In the People’s Republic of China, on the other hand, the ruling Communist Party perceives public and cultural diplomacy as ‘external propaganda, ’ a category within the vast portfolio of ‘ideology and propaganda work, ’ and tends to make the participation of non-state actors conditional upon their conformity with the party-state’s metanarrative and policy. The cultural and public diplomacy of China is thus performed mostly by government agencies or actors associated with the government, including various ‘people’s organizations’ established or coopted by the party-state. The notion of culture is an essential channel of engagement of Xi Jinping’s China with foreign state institutions, non-state entities, transnational actors, and the general public, through which it seeks not only to build ‘cultural soft power, ’ but also to promote broader strategic policy objectives and to solidify the regime’s domestic and international legitimacy. This collective monograph presents a conceptual introduction to cultural diplomacy and case studies of China’s use of Xinjiang in public diplomacy in Kazakhstan, ‘Silk Road’ diplomacy in Central Asia, the appropriation of the historical figure Admiral Zheng He in cultural diplomacy in Malaysia, the role of two Confucius Institutes and a university in cultural diplomacy in Malaysia, the promotion of the image of ‘Muslim’ China in cultural diplomacy in the Middle East, transnational and local actors’ impact in cultural diplomacy in Berlin, and the trajectory of China’s cultural diplomacy illustrated by the international co-production of documentary films. The publication is an outcome of the research project China’s Cultural Diplomacy: Role of Non-State Actors and Regional Variations (GAČR GA15–21829S) funded by Czech Science Foundation and running from 2015 to 2017.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationTransnational Sites of China’s Cultural Diplomacy
    Subtitle of host publicationCentral Asia, Southeast Asia, Middle East and Europe Compared
    PublisherSpringer Singapore
    Number of pages11
    ISBN (Electronic)9789811555923
    ISBN (Print)9789811555916
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Economics,Econometrics and Finance
    • General Business,Management and Accounting
    • General Social Sciences


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