The aim of this podcast is to look at the question ‘what effect do the protests in Hong Kong have on China’s soft power?’ through the lens of different western produced media over the years. Before we get started I am just going to give a quick run-down of what soft power is and a brief overview of the reason the people of Hong Kong are Protesting.
Soft Power is the ability to attract rather than coerce. The ability to shape the preferences of others through appeal and attraction. So while hard power is a country military and ability to perform in Warfare, soft power is their culture, politics, foreign policy and media, like music and movies.
The BBC has a very helpful article that gives a quick explanation of the reason for the protests, that I will be getting my information from.
Hong Kong’s protests started in June against proposals to allow extradition to mainland China. Critics feared this could undermine the city’s judicial independence and endanger dissidents.
Until 1997, Hong Kong was a British colony – meaning it was controlled by Britain. After returning to Chinese rule, it has more autonomy than mainland China. This is known as “one country, two systems”. City leaders agreed to suspend the bill, but demonstrations developed to include demands for full democracy and an inquiry into police actions. While the bill was withdrawn in September, clashes between police and protestors have become increasingly violent. Media review and how what is being said relates to soft power in china
The first article I will be looking at is titled, Soft power is about influence, not control is from South China morning post and states that in 2017 china claimed 25th spot among leading nations in the soft power index compiled by a London PR Advisor and the University of Southern California. The index placed the US 3rd behind France and Britain, despite the issues they have had with Brexit. The index measures the influence of 61 nations using data on governance, culture, education, global engagement, enterprise and digital, plus polling in 25 countries. The article states that China is ranked the lowest among countries in Asia, who are being led by Japan. The author states “The human rights issue and censorship come readily to mind, with another index author, former British Council head Martin Davidson, noting that China’s projection of soft power challenged the concept of universal human rights in favour of socialist values including equality, development and harmony.” This article looks at pre-protest soft power in China and comes to the conclusion that while China was trying, they didn’t have as much soft power as maybe they would have liked.
The second article, also from south china morning post, titled Chinese soft power is a carrot being undermined by a stick, talks about the fact that Chinas policymakers are aware of the importance of soft power and the impact that it can have on a country. The article also discusses what we talked about in the introduction, what soft power is and the profound effect it can have on a country. It then goes on to talk about the fact that the term soft power has made its way into Chinas government policies and the speeches of leaders. China has made great efforts to promote their language, media and pop culture aboard, however, the article states that China has yet to see a return on these efforts, as surveys have suggested that the countries influence has grown but this has not translated into the country being viewed favourably. As the author says, All this suggests that while many see China’s economic miracle as something to be emulated, its image is being undermined by other factors.
This article, written by the council on foreign relations discusses the possible future of Hong Kong in Asia. The article discusses the fact that Chinese leaders must be extremely careful not to undercut the authority of the Hong Kong government or the city’s fair and impartial judicial system, which has been a crucial asset in attracting business and finance from abroad, and something that has helped the way china has been viewed in the past.
From my understanding of these medias it Seems that while the protests have had an effect on china’s soft power, it has not been negative or positive, but rather bringing the issue in front of more people’s eyes as there wasn’t a hugely positive perception of china before this, more of either an indifference due to lack of knowledge or negative perception, as seen in media 1. This can really be seen by the contrasts between the way that China, mainly the Chinese Government is spoken about in all 3 medias, or the lack of difference between the positive or negative way the issue are spoken about. While all 3 medias shows that there is a respect of the economic power of China, the protests in Hong Kong have not, at the moment largely effected Chinas soft power, but rather bought the issue in front of more eyes.
Thank you for listening to my podcast. If you would like to do further research, I encourage you to not only look at the articles I spoke about but to also look at the further reading I have included on my blog.