Meng Meng

Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2012

Capstone Advisor

Professor, Terrill Lautz

Honors Reader

Professor, Hongying Wang

Capstone Major

International Relations

Capstone College

Citizenship and Public Affairs

Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Social Sciences

Subject Categories

Asian Studies | International and Area Studies


Soft power, a term coined by American scholar Joseph S. Nye in the early nineties, has been widely used in the academic and political arenas. This paper attempts to analyze soft power from Chinese perspectives. By thoroughly examining official documents, scholarly writings, news reports, and various related websites, I hope to address the following questions: how do Chinese scholars interpret soft power? What is soft power with Chinese characteristics? How does China wield its soft power? What is the importance of soft power? What are the results of Chinese soft power building? And finally, is it a zero-sum game competing with U.S. soft power building?

My study reveals that Chinese scholars have a broader interpretation of soft power that goes beyond Nye’s discussion on soft power. Soft power in Chinese discourse focuses more on China’s domestic situation. Following Chinese scholars’ discussion on soft power, Chinese politicians used culture as the main source of Chinese soft power building. Confucianism has resurged as a primary feature for Chinese culture exporting. The Chinese government has put a great deal of effort into exporting Chinese culture through Confucius Institutes worldwide and through various Chinese cultural events. By comparing results of U.S. and China soft power projection, I reached the conclusion that even though China has been aggressive in soft power projection, there are limitations because of its political system, while the U.S.’s popular culture still plays a dominant role worldwide. Both countries feel threatened by each other. Soft power projection, however, is not a zero-sum game but a good way to increase mutual understanding in order to avoid future value clashes and conflicts.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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Asian Studies Commons



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