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Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences
This article considers the use of “soft power” as an instrument of China’s political strategy. Within the context of the issue of combining forms of international political influence, the notion of “soft power” is unveiled as interpreted by its author – American political expert J. Nye – while analyzing the adaptation of said notion to Peking’s political strategy, which in turn is associated with China’s rise to the position of global superpower number 2. Highlighted is the fact that this notion is attune to China’s centuries-old political tradition, as well as Peking’s current objective to relieve its neighbors traditional unease on account of a possible threat on their behalf, due both to the sheer size of the country, with its population of almost 1.5 billion people, and its relatively recent aggressive behavior during the time of Maoism. The article gives a characteristic of the main instruments used to implement the Chinese strategy of “soft” influence, particularly broadening the network of Confucius institutes and classes, taking advantage of hosting high-profile international events, education in China’s educational facilities, establishing control over certain global media corporations etc. Especially considered is the use of “soft power” in China’s collaboration with post-Soviet states, primarily with Russia and republics of central Asia. Demonstrated are features of the political context of Peking’s use of “soft power” on post-Soviet territory, highlighted among which is a rather strong prejudice against China in countries of central Asia, as well as the need to achieve a friendlier relationship with the Russian Federation, which in turn possesses “soft power” potential comparable to China, and also strives to play a leading role on post-Soviet territory. Based on the analysis conducted, the author comes to the conclusion that “soft power” methods were able to solidify a strong foundation of public support for a strategic partnership between Russia and China. This in no small part helped in gradually increasing the level of mutual trust throughout the last decade, which, on one hand, helped calm Russian people’s anxiety on account of Chinese migration to regions of the Far East and Siberia, and on the other – without any serious incidents lighten certain delicate aspects of Russian-Chinese relations which had emerged in the past.
political influence, political trust, “soft” power, the post-Soviet space, Russian-Chinese relations
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