The Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese state have had a tough time establishing their soft power around the globe, unlike their harder power initiatives, which is China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
The Belt and Road Initiative attempts to replicate the trade routes built by the British Empire from the 16th to the mid-20th century.It has the historical legacy of the ancient Chinese Silk Road established during the Han Empire.
The definition of soft power in politics, soft power is the ability to co-opt rather than coerce.
It involves shaping the preferences of others through appeal and attraction.
A defining feature of soft power is that it is non-coercive; the currency of soft power includes culture, political values, and foreign policies.
The Chinese are failing and establishing their soft power due to continuous candles and the growing rift between the West and the Chinese state.
This is due to the Chinese support of the Russian invasion of Ukrainian in 2014 with the seizure of Crimea.
Also, the fact that the Chinese continue to support the Russians in their deliberate grab for territory during the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine has led to an all-out war between both nations.
With the Chinese supporting the Russians and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation supporting Ukrainians, it damages relations and increases mistrust between both countries.
Ukraine war is leading nations like the United States to bring their industrial plant back to their home nations and become less reliant on Chinese manufacturing goods, which were the key to the rise of China throughout the 2000s.
The Chinese Image Problem
The Chinese committed three great crimes that severely impacted their ability to project soft power around the globe due to their bad-faith actions and going against agreements they have made with other Western powers.
When the British Empire finally ended on July 1 1997, the handover of Hong Kong’s 1997 to China from British rule used to be a day of celebration in the city.
Now, it has morphed into a morbid reminder of Hong Kong’s tragic decline under the ever-worsening repression brought on by Beijing.
Since 2017 with the yellow umbrella movement and protest continuing into 2020, the mainland Chinese engaging in a hard crackdown has led to mistrust among Western nations due to China reneging on its agreement’s secure democracy in Hong Kong.
This was part of the China one-state and two-system solution when securing the freedoms and liberties the people of Hong Kong enjoyed during British rule, which China stated they would maintain.
Naturally, it was incredibly stupid, maybe even treacherous, for British policymakers to expect a global superpower and raising power in the Far East to keep to its original agreement.
The British Empire and Britain’s ability to project its power around the globe has declined since the early 20th century and continues to this day with a decaying carcass of the British Commonwealth.
Still, despite all these political facts and reality on the ground, the Chinese reneged on their agreements by not securing the democratic freedoms of Hong Kong, and this led to the damaging the Chinese soft power and their perception abroad.
The final major factor that severely damaged Chinese soft power barring their actions in supporting Russia and cracking down on the democratic movement in Hong Kong, is the fact that the Chinese are using concentration camps reminiscent of Hitler’s Nazi Germany during World War II (1939 to 1945).
Or the British concentration camps used during the Boer War (1899 to 1902) both concentration camps were horrific and inhumane, and the Chinese were performing similar actions.
About 12 million Uyghurs, mostly Muslim, live in Xinjiang, officially known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, which is experiencing concentration camps or re-education camps called by the Chinese Communist Party.
What the Chinese are engaging in is a form of cultural genocide in the attempt to remove religious minorities and other ethnic groups that are not culturally Han Chinese and disease actions that make Western policymakers incredibly uncomfortable in maintaining any cordial relationship with China.
BBC History The Boer Wars link
BBC News Who are the Uyghurs and why is China being accused of genocide? link
CISI What Is the U.S. “One China” Policy, and Why Does it Matter? link
Council of Foreign Affairs What Is Soft Power? link
The Washington Post Opinion Hong Kong’s downfall is a warning to the world link
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