Playing Soft in the Era of Trump and Xi

Professor Stanley Rosen presented on China’s current pursuit of soft power.

Back in 2010, the Chinese government published the Blue Book of China’s Cultural Soft Power . The book pessimistically declared that the United States wielded 43 per cent of the soft power in the world and the European Union 34 per cent, while China’s soft power was limited to less than 4 per cent.

Professor Stanley ROSEN, Professor of Political Science at the University of Southern California, shed light on China’s current soft power push in his lecture entitled “China’s Pursuit of ‘Soft Power’ in the Era of Donald Trump and Xi Jinping” on 11 March 2019, organised by the Global China Studies project of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

Rosen, who specialises in Chinese politics and society, commented on China’s soft power play after two years of Trump’s presidency. The evidence of the decline of the American image internationally from multiple surveys was overwhelming. But has China been able to reap some rewards from the US decline? “Despite billions of dollars spent on soft power, there has been a relative lack of success of Chinese soft power abroad,” said Rosen. “China has repeatedly indicated [its] willingness to sacrifice short-term gains in soft power in pursuit of higher priorities,” he continued.

During the lecture, he explained the differences in soft power projection by China and the US. He also showed different front covers of The Economist magazine portraying Trump and Xi, to illustrate the growing influence of China and the decline of the US in global affairs.

The lecture attracted a full house and the audience expressed great interest in the topic. Following Rosen’s presentation, an interactive discussion session was initiated between the speaker and the audience on China’s soft power play with the US and other countries in the world.