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  • 1.
    Hagström, Linus
    et al.
    Swedish Defence University, Department of Security, Strategy and Leadership (ISSL), Political Science Section, Sektionen för säkerhet. Swedish Institute of International Affairs, Sweden.
    Nordin, Astrid
    Lancaster University China Centre, Lancaster University, United Kingdom; Swedish Institute of International Affairs, Sweden.
    China's “Politics of Harmony” and the Quest for Soft Power in International Politics2019In: International Studies Review, ISSN 1521-9488, E-ISSN 1468-2486, p. 1-19, article id viz023Article in journal (Refereed)
    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.

  • 2.
    Nordin, Astrid
    et al.
    Swedish Institute of International Affairs.
    Weissmann, Mikael
    Swedish Defence University, Department of Military Studies, Tactical Warfare Division, Land Operations Section. Swedish Institute of International Affairs.
    Will Trump make China great again?: The belt and road initiative and international order2018In: International Affairs, ISSN 0020-5850, E-ISSN 1468-2346, Vol. 94, no 2, p. 231-249Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Under President Xi Jinping's leadership, Chinese foreign relations have moved from keeping a low profile, to a more assertive bid for international leadership that is beginning to take form in the ‘belt and road initiative’ (BRI). This initiative focuses on connectivity in policy coordination, facilities, trade, finance and people-to-people relations, in order to connect China to key parts of Asia, the south Pacific, east Africa and Europe. Networked capitalism and the national unit, which are often seen as spatial opposites in the global political economy, are both exercised through the BRI in mutually supporting ways. Networked capitalism is not challenging the national spatial unit, nor vice versa. Rather, they conglomerate to reinforce Chinese government narratives which portray China as the new trailblazer of global capitalism—thus illustrating and justifying a new Sinocentric order in east Asia. Likely winners of this constellation, if it is successful, are megalopolises in Eurasia, and most of all the Chinese Communist Party. Likely losers are countries that are not included in the BRI, most notably the United States. In a context where President Donald Trump is signalling a more protectionist stance and the United States is withdrawing from free trade pacts like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Trump may ironically enable Xi's dream of making China great again.

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