Power (soft vs hard)

Hard power involves the ability to get what one wants through coercion or payment. Soft power usually comes in the form of seduction via culture, political values, or foreign policy that has moral authority; it is seen as 'cool'.

For example, America's victory over Russia during the Cold War has been put down to soft power, ie

"...Soviet run propaganda and cultural programs could not keep pace with the influence of America's commercial popular culture in flexibility or attraction. Long before the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, it had been pierced by television and movies..."

Joseph Nye as quoted by George Gao, 2017

China has a similar problem as its pop music and television dramas do not have worldwide popularity, ie

"...This is largely because China's popular culture lacks emotion, artistic or sex appeal..."

George Gao, 2017

For example, in Latin America and Africa, around half the population view US cultural products favourably; less than a third have favourable opinions of Chinese music, movies or television.


"...popular culture becomes popular because, somewhere along the way, it pushes the boundaries of what is socially acceptable or recognised..."

George Gao, 2017

In the case of China and its government's all-encompassing central control, its national priorities shape its culture. Not the other way round.

Yet its command-control economic model is admired across the developing world, while being unpopular in the developed world like Europe and the USA.

However China's image is improving as it invested in infrastructure projects, provides aid and willingness to engage with emerging markets.


"...while the West values individuality, Chinese values the group, so much so that the Chinese would rather conform to the masses and explore new paths..."

George Gao, 2017

At the same time, we need to be careful of mass stereotyping.


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