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China's “Politics of Harmony” and the Quest for Soft Power in International Politics
Swedish Defence University, Department of Security, Strategy and Leadership (ISSL), Political Science Section, Sektionen för säkerhet. Swedish Institute of International Affairs, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7495-055X
Lancaster University China Centre, Lancaster University, United Kingdom; Swedish Institute of International Affairs, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8665-2565
2019 (English)In: International Studies Review, ISSN 1521-9488, E-ISSN 1468-2486, p. 1-19, article id viz023Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

This article engages with China's “politics of harmony” to investigate the dangers and possibilities of soft power as a concept and practice. Chinese sources claim that China will be able to exercise soft power due to its tradition of thinking about harmony. Indeed, the concept of harmony looms large in Chinese soft power campaigns, which differentiate China's own harmonious soft power from the allegedly disharmonious hard power of other great powers—in particular Western powers and Japan. Yet, similarly dichotomizing harmony discourses have been employed precisely in the West and Japan. In all three cases, such harmony discourses set a rhetorical trap, forcing audiences to empathize and identify with the “harmonious” self or risk being violently “harmonized.” There is no doubt that the soft power of harmony is coercive. More importantly, the present article argues that it has legitimized and enabled oppressive, homogenizing, and bellicose expansionism and rule in the West and Japan. A similarly structured exercise of soft power may enable violence in and beyond China, too. Ultimately, however, we argue that China's own tradition of thinking about harmony may help us to theorize how soft power might be exercised in less antagonistic and violent ways.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. p. 1-19, article id viz023
Keywords [en]
China, harmony, Japan, power, soft power, the West
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Statsvetenskap med inriktning mot strategi och säkerhetspolitik
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:fhs:diva-8632DOI: 10.1093/isr/viz023OAI: oai:DiVA.org:fhs-8632DiVA, id: diva2:1327554
Funder
Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation, MMW2013.0162Available from: 2019-06-19 Created: 2019-06-19 Last updated: 2019-09-10Bibliographically approved

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Hagström, Linus

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