Harvard University professor Joseph Nye (Nye) coined the term “soft power” more than two decades ago. Efforts of soft power building have been consolidated by China in recent years. What challenges does China face in building its soft power? And with regard to China’s unique path, can the emerging nation offer a genuine alternative to US model? Global Times (GT) reporter Wu Ningning invited Nye, who is also a former chairman of the US National Intelligence Council and senior Pentagon official, to discuss these issues.

GT: You once said China has had a limited return on its investment in soft power, so what are the limits of strengthening China’s soft power?

Nye: A lot of soft power from other countries arises not from government actions but from civil society, so it often directly contacts with people that create soft power.

China has not allowed civil society to have as much independence as in the West. I think that limits China’s soft power.

I also think the nationalism limits China’s soft power. You can create a Confucius Institute in Hanoi, and then try to develop an appreciation for Chinese culture, but then the oil rig incident takes place and anti-Chinese feeling rises.

I’m not taking a position whether China was right or wrong, or on who owns this oil and this … (to read more)

Joseph S. Nye, Jr ©2017