Opportunities for Chinese soft power

Discussion in 'Members' Club Room' started by plawolf, Jan 20, 2013.

  1. plawolf
    Offline

    plawolf Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2007
    Messages:
    3,227
    Likes Received:
    208
    I think we can all agree that China has an image problem abroad, particularly in the West. Lets leave aside for now, whether that image problem is deserved or not as I think that facet of the subject will be very polarizing and ultimately serves no real constructive purpose, and instead focus on things China can do to improve and change that image problem.

    I think there are a number of areas that China needs to do a great deal more on urgently.

    China can do is be more proactive in foreign affairs, especially in humanitarian relief missions. I think we are already seeing the first signs of this more confident and outward looking foreign policy. China's involvement in the Aden escort mission is the first and best example of this.

    But I think China needs to look beyond totally risk-free missions where it would be neigh on impossible for it's detractors to try and criticize them and distort the truth of what they are doing and also not bother so much with contribution to UN missions since the biased western media will never give China credit and will probably purposefully distort and omit China's contribution. Take the earthquake relief effort in Haiti for example. Pretty much the only coverage the western media made of China's contribution was the allegation that Chinese relief teams went to help Chinese peacekeepers in the country first, when in fact they went to help the UN headquarters first, and were the ones who recovered the head of the UN mission's body. It just so happens that the UN mission head was meeting with a delegation from the Chinese peacekeeping unit at the time the earthquake struck, so the news was twisted to make it look like the Chinese only went to Haiti to help their own.

    China needs to do this under it's own flag and with it's own people who display their origins prominently and proudly to the world.

    I read an article today on the plight of ordinary Syrians in the face of the growing civil war ravaging their country, and beyond the immediate sympathy and empathy for their plight, I cannot help but think that this is the perfect opportunity for China to step up.

    China can use its none interference policy and track record to its advantage and offer to set up humanitarian relief operations. Chinese flagged ships can directly bring in much needed food, fuel and medical supplies as well as tents, heaters, winter clothing, water treatment equipment, doctors etc and set up direct distribution centers with Red Cross and Red Crescent observes to pre-empt the charge that China is secretly helping the Syrian regime.

    A further step could be for China to undertake similar missions in countries western nations are actively engaged in military operations in. This would maximize public exposure so the western media cannot simply omit to mention the good works China is doing, and also create a stark contrast in the eyes of the rest of the world about the vastly different roles China and the West are playing on the world stage.

    So, if the French manage to pull off a stunning speedy victory in Mali, good for them. If not, and things descend into a protracted insurgency, China could consider establishing humanitarian relief mission to help with the displaced and injured civilian victims of the conflict.

    China could use the need to mount such missions as a reason to establish foreign logistical supply bases, which would be a far less threatening move than establishing military bases overseas, but which can serve the same purpose. The PLAAF can get long range logistical training by flying in supplies and personnel from time to time, and the PLAN can practice long range deployments and develop it's long range logistical support capabilities and put them to the test ferrying supplies.

    The most tricky element of this strategy would be security. The sight of Chinese soldiers on foreign soil would help the haters and bashers no end as they try and paint China's involvement as "colonialism" or other such nonsense, and the risks of getting dragged into a conflict because of a misunderstanding is too high. But neither should China leave it's personnel and property undefended for any outlaw group to attack and pillage as they please.

    Based on this, I think it would be best if China adopted to two step approach to security. The first is to actively engage and employ locals to help with the security. Make it clear to them that the Chinese are there to help them, and that it would be in their best interests to help keep the Chinese safe in turn. So it will be locals who provide the first line of defense, and they can be paid and equipped with non-lethal weapons like stunguns and bullet proof vests etc.

    If any unfortunate incidents occur and Chinese personnel are killed or taken hostage, it should be the locals who are the first to be asked to resolve the situation. So China will seek local tribal elders and the like to provide justice and abide by local laws and customs.

    The second part of the security strategy would be a small Chinese naval task group consisting of 1 x 071 LPD and a small number of escorts, who would be on station near any Chinese operation throughout the mission but their presence not be mentioned other than to say that they are on routine deployment.

    If the locals cannot resolve any incidents peacefully and have exhausted all peaceful avenues of negotiation, then and only then should a military option be considered.

    Hopefully such options would not need to be exercised, and China has tended to be able to negotiate the release of hostages without resorting to threats or the use of force, so this should be largely just long range deployment training for the PLAN, but the added option is always useful, and would be a good source of reassurance for the Chinese nationals operating in such dangerous places.

    So, I would like this threat to largely focus on these and any other opportunities for China to assert itself more on the world stage to help improve it's image, and to discussing the merits, costs and dangers of such missions.
     
    #1
  2. airsuperiority
    Offline

    airsuperiority Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,041
    Likes Received:
    80
    Location:
    Vancouver, Hong Kong
    I had opened a thread at one time discussing Chinese soft power, which wasn't too well-received. Anyways I think 80% of the problem today is from the foreign media's bias, who will continue to spew venom even if God Himself appeared on Earth and make it clear China is God's way or Xi is the rebirth of Christ.

    While I do think what you suggested could be useful, it would take a very high profile incident such as Rwanda '94 or "Chinese sent an army to stop an army of orcs and zombies" in order to rally more popularity. I also think another issue is that most of the concentrations of Western media bias had always been on China's human rights and all those stuffs, so unless China "turns into democracy, freed all the human rights activists, abolish labor camps", we won't see China start being painted as good guys anytime soon. And same goes to economy. Until suddenly a golden age of new technological advances and patents all come out of China as original such as flying cars and time machines and teleporters, China would still be considered the copycat nation.
     
    #2
  3. Franklin
    Offline

    Franklin Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,389
    Likes Received:
    153
    All you mentioned above is useless. The sin of China in the eyes of the West is that its a independent power persueing her own interest in the world at the expense of Western influence. Unless China is willing to give up her economic, political, strategic and diplomatic interests around the world to align her policies with Western interests then no matter whatever goodwill gestures China makes it will fall short. If Chinese imports of African resources is called plundering and Chinese investment in Africa is called colonialisme then Chinese LPD's infront of other countries coast will be called a invasion !

    All the talk of human rights, democracy and humanisme is just that talk. In the end what counts in world politics is not value's but interests. There is no one set of rules that you can live by that can endear you to the West. Countries that have tried it before have gotten a raw deal. Like Muammar Khadaffi in Libya and Bashar al-Assad in Syria. They have in recent years try everything they can to get on a good footing with the West but look where that has gotten them. Because these countries despite offering the West a hand of friendship they still insist that they pursue their own interest in their own way rather than aligning them selfs with Western interests. I guess the sin of Bashar al-Assad is that he won't drop Iran and Hezbollah as allies for the sake of having better relations with the West. Another example is Russia when Russia was permanently bankrupt led by a permanently drunk Boris Jeltsin. Western Russian relations where at their best. Now that Vladimir Putin has gotten Russia back on track again tensions between Russia and the West are on the rise again.

    And China's current tensions with some of its neighbours relates mainly to territorial disputes. Goodwill gestures of the kind you mentioned will not help there either.
     
    #3
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2013
  4. airsuperiority
    Offline

    airsuperiority Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,041
    Likes Received:
    80
    Location:
    Vancouver, Hong Kong
    The media are least likely to change, but individuals and tourists visiting China would know, and where the discrepancies of information play, they would believe their own eyes more. And hot stories such as China making an official status quo as democracy are too hard to ignore. So even if it's true that in the intermediate run the media will go back to their ignorant ways, at least people can't call out "communists", "human rights abusers" like they used to do and would have to think of something more creative. And selling the perception that China is democratic and no longer have labor camps and human rights activists aren't locked up would still make China's life a bit easier than before.
     
    #4
  5. Franklin
    Offline

    Franklin Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,389
    Likes Received:
    153
    Vladimir Putin is democratically elected that didn't help him. Russia is no longer a Communist nation that doesn't help them either. Now its been called a mafia nation ! I'm sure they will find something on China too when everything you say where to happen. Hugo Chavez was democratically elected too and that doesn't seems to help him either. Do you know of any political prisoners in Venezuela ? In the end the problem with China is that its becoming stronger and more powerful and is being seen in the West as a threat to the West of their economy, ideals, influence and in the end dominance. Japan in the 1980's despite being a US satrap is being vilified in America because of its economic rise that is challenging the US. Now that the Japanese economy in the past 20+ years have become lethargic the vilification of Japan has stopt as well. The media in the West just like elsewhere in the world is a echo chamber of the powers to be.

    And there are also a lot of people posting on the internet who has been to China or at least claim to have been to China instead of talking about the progress in China they are complaining about unsafe food, dirty air, corrupt officials and the lacking in services. And they seems to be genuinely appalled by the situation in China. Somehow they expect China to run like Switserland.
     
    #5
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2013
  6. plawolf
    Offline

    plawolf Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2007
    Messages:
    3,227
    Likes Received:
    208
    All good points gentlemen.

    I am fully aware that China's biggest problem is the biased western media, who will omit all of China's good deeds and twist everything else to propagate their own agenda and propaganda.

    However, the problem with establishing a world-class Chinese English news service to get China's views and opinions out into the world is that it cannot be done by the Chinese government. Any media organization that has any links whatsoever with the Chinese government will be dismissed as a mouth piece propaganda outfit by the western media.

    After decades of programming and reinforcement (when was the last time any western media mentioned any Chinese paper or news station without calling it either a 'mouthpiece' or 'propaganda department'?), there is just no way any Chinese government affiliate English news service will be able to have any meaningful impact no matter how good the english and slick their programming.

    The only way such an outfit might work is if it was totally privately financed and based in HK. With the number of Chinese millionaires and billionaires increasing, there is a chance that one or a group of them might band together to found such an independent English news service, but it will take a long of investment over a prolonged period to get such an outfit started and established, and such a move might even hurt the people behind it, as Beijing will need to distance itself from the founders and not show them any preferential treatment or the western media will twist that to discredit the new station.

    When the western media cannot discredit the new station by trying link it to the Chinese government, they will no doubt try to go after the founders, knowing that if they kill off the money source before the station reaches critical mass and becomes self-sufficient, they can stillborn it.

    Now, for all the millionaires and billionaires in China, how many of them are willing to have all their operations in China not get any sort of preferential treatment, and maybe even being treated more harshly than would be normal or fair to make sure there is no hint of collusion, and also be themselves bulletproof against people digging into their past to see where their fortunes came from? Not that many I'm afraid. Such an organization can still be founded, but it's not something China can or should bank on, so in the meantime, there are other things China can do to improve its image abroad (and not just in the west or America).

    Trying to fight a media war with the western media is the wrong strategy in my view. The best way to break their deathgrip on mainstream media is to show them for what they really are. And the best way to do that is through action, not words.

    With the internet becoming ever more popular and influential a source for news, it will be harder and harder for the western media to keep their bias and agenda a secret from their audience if all China is do good deeds and the western media only badmouth them for it.

    The main target for these humanitarian missions would be the rest of the world, not the west and America.

    If China can get the Islamic world, the Arab world, the African world and the Latin American world to see first hand the good work and positive impact China is playing on the world stage, the more obvious the western media's bias and the more they will resent it. This world opinion would then feed back more widely and forcefully back into the western world as their citizens experience this when they travel abroad for work or leisure.
     
    #6
  7. plawolf
    Offline

    plawolf Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2007
    Messages:
    3,227
    Likes Received:
    208
    I think Franklin has hit the nail on the head. The West and America's problem with China is not democracy or human rights or whatever the flavor of the month BS grievance it claims, but rather because China is a strong and independent nation.

    The West have plenty of friends who are far more autocratic than China, who's people have far fewer freedoms and compared to who China's human rights record is the height of enlightenment. Half the regimes to fall in the Arab Spring were Western cronies, and the few that remain strong only do so because the west turn a blind eye to them gunning down protesters and throwing many more into prison and the same torture dungeons that the CIA deposited people when mere water bounding didn't work.

    China can do everything on todays China bashing list, and tomorrow the goal posts will be moved and the western media will find something else to bash China with.

    The only way that stops is if China become a vassal puppet of the west, and China accepts the west's dominance and inherent superiority totally and without question.

    Short of that, there is no placating the China haters and bashers, so China should not even try. The west at least gives the Russians some grudging respect for their grit and and resolve. That is far preferable to being a favored lap dog fighting for the west's table scraps and the odd condescending pat on the head.
     
    #7
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2013
  8. AssassinsMace
    Offline

    AssassinsMace Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2005
    Messages:
    5,494
    Likes Received:
    601
    Location:
    Outside the Box
    There's one huge hurdle in the way for basically anything to happen. The Chinese lack charisma by design. I've read accounts of Chinese leaders saying if only Mao had died in the 1950s and then China wouldn't have gone through the upheaval of the cultural revolution. That says they even recognized Mao went too far. Which goes to why the leaders since have been dull and drab. They're afraid of another Mao rising so they intentional shy away from anyone with any charisma. They don't want any leader to have the power that comes with it.

    You need charisma in order to get soft power. And since the communists are afraid of letting any leader with charisma to come to the stage, it doesn't translate to the world because as a policy China chooses to be as neutral as possible around the world, thus no one can count on China to help them.

    Look at the Mali situation. You have the Western media as always trying to spin China into everything. This time somehow France and the West are made doing all the dirty work to protect Chinese interests. Yeah like that anti-China French leader that was just elected has a gun to his head forcing the French to protect Chinese interests. Normally they would say China is on the side of these Al Qaeda aligned rebels. For whatever reason they didn't use their default painting of China, the point is they can spin anything into anything. Why? Because the Chinese government even in their denials makes them as neutral and non-offensive as possible. If only China can muster the kind of angry response from fake outrage the West has when they spin these lies about how what's happening in Mali is all about Western military forces protecting Chinese interests. Bejing doesn't have the charisma to lead and that's why they always stay neutral.
     
    #8
  9. paintgun
    Offline

    paintgun Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2010
    Messages:
    1,003
    Likes Received:
    30
    My mantra about China's soft power and constant media war with the West is always fix thing at home, improve the life of Chinese people and they will exude and magnify the soft power by themselves.

    Soft power is not always a product of the state or the government, but more often is a byproduct of the people.
     
    #9
  10. kyanges
    Offline

    kyanges Junior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2006
    Messages:
    676
    Likes Received:
    35
    It's good that the thread has already reached the conclusion that nearly anything can be spun into nearly anything else, because, this idea (The specific quote above.) is so incredibly vulnerable to spin, I find it ironic that it's even suggested as a counter spin strategy.

    If China's paying the locals, then the obvious spin is that the Chinese are cowardly, dirty dealing scum, who use their resources to blackmail innocent foreigners with no other choice, to die for Chinese. It's too easy.

    I'm with paintgun on this. There's just no point in doing actions just for the sake of currying favor.
     
    #10
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2013
Loading...

Share This Page