Tuesday, October 13, 2015

'Xi has greater foreign policy clout than predecessors’

Song Sang-ho, koreaherald.com

Kim Heung-kyu image from article
Chinese President Xi Jinping has forged a new institutional mechanism to enable him to ease the constraints of the country’s collective leadership structure and take control of foreign policy, a China expert said.
Kim Heung-kyu, political science professor at Ajou University, noted in an interview with The Korea Herald that through new panels such as the National Security Commission, Xi “institutionalized” his leadership to exert more influence over policy formulation than his predecessors Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin. ...
KH: China has focused on bolstering its hard power. But at the same time, it has also paid due attention to cultivating its soft power through various means including public diplomacy, although many seem to downplay the aspect of China’s soft power. What is your take on this?
Kim: China’s mainstream strategists think that the U.S. is obviously stronger than China in terms of hard power. For China to surpass the U.S. in hard power would take considerable time and effort, and the possibility seems to be not that high that China would overtake the U.S. in the overall hard power in the first part of the 21st century. But in the 21st-century world politics, the areas of the non-zero sum game have been expanded, and the importance of soft power has increased. This, spurred by the informatization, has given rise to opportunities to court the hearts of the people around the world.
What China is proud of is its culture, tradition and history, which is richer and more diverse contrary to outsiders’ perspectives. China appears to think that by capitalizing on them, it can build its own soft power, as the U.S. has created the universal values of liberal democracy and human rights. So what we should note is that China is confident of and proud of the quality of its soft power. China also thinks that it should more actively utilize its soft power as a means to expand its influence.
In the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party, China added public diplomacy as the fifth foreign policy pillar. At the congress, a total of the five pillars -- great-power diplomacy, neighborhood diplomacy, diplomacy toward developing countries, multilateral diplomacy and then public diplomacy -- were mentioned. Thus, we can say that China values public diplomacy more than outsiders have thought. Based on its efforts to build soft power, China is apparently trying to build some kind of a (soft power-based) framework through which its influence can be universally accepted.

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