Is China's Soft Power a Threat? Reconceptualizing Capabilities and Foreign Policy

Qinghong Wang , Education Exchange Program for the East-West Center in Honolulu
Leif-Eric Easley , The 2010-11 Northeast Asian History Fellow at Shorenstein APARC, Stanford University

SVP required by 5PM May 12

The concept of "soft power" is central for the multi-dimensional rise of China as well as the evolving global strategy of the United States. Beijing is increasingly concerned with projecting soft power to neutralize perceptions of China as a threat while Chinese global influence grows. Washington, meanwhile, looks to employ soft power in remaking its post-Iraq international image, countering terrorist ideological extremism, and attracting the cooperation of international partners to deal with global challenges.

This seminar will address several key questions about soft power:

- What are the different implications when governments use "hard power" in "soft" ways versus when they try to use "soft power" in "hard" ways?

- How is soft power understood and operationalized differently in China than in the United States?

- What are the different visions for projecting soft power among various political actors in China?

- Can soft power be threatening? How can we disentangle capabilities and policies that may be threatening from those that are attractive to other states and encourage cooperation?

About the speakers

Qinghong Wang is currently coordinating the Education Exchange Program for the East-West Center in Honolulu. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2010. His dissertation is entitled, Reinventing Democracy through Confucianism: Representation, Application and Reorientation of Western Transnational Nonprofit Organizations (WTNPOs) in Post-Mao China. Dr. Wang earned his MA in Asian studies from the University of Hawaii in 2003 and his BA in Chinese language and literature from Peking (Beijing) University in 1999. Dr. Wang is originally from Beijing. He was the Lloyd (Joe) R. and Lilian Vasey Fellow with the Pacific Forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) from 2006 to 2007, and has since remained an adjunct fellow with the Forum. His research focuses on the development of civil society in China, U.S.-China relations, traditional and nontraditional security issues in the Asia Pacific, and comparative politics and philosophies of East and West.

Leif-Eric Easley is the 2010-11 Northeast Asian History Fellow at Shorenstein APARC. Dr. Easley completed his Ph.D. at the Harvard University Department of Government in 2010, specializing in East Asian international relations. Hs dissertation presents a theory of national identity perceptions, bilateral trust between governments, and patterns of security cooperation, based on extensive fieldwork in Seoul, Tokyo, and Beijing. At Stanford, he is teaching a course on nationalism, contested history, d the international relations of Japan, China, South Korea, and the United States. Dr. Easley is actively involved in high-level U.S.-Asia exchanges (Track II diplomacy) as a Sasakawa and Kelly Fellow with the Pacific Forum CSIS. His research appears in a variety of academic journals, supplemented by commentaries in major newspapers.

With regional perspective commentary by:

Donald Emmerson, Director, Southeast Asia Forum, Shorenstein APARC

Daniel Sneider, Associate Director for Research, Shorenstein APARC

David Straub, Associate Director, Korean Studies Program, Shorenstein APA

Friday, May 13, 2011 | 12:00 pm — 1:30 pm
Philippines Conference Room, Encina Hall, 3rd Floor

Shorenstein APARC