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Confucius Institute project: China's cultural diplomacy and soft power projection

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Abstract

PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to apply the theory of cultural diplomacy to explore and explain the role and function of the Confucius Institution project and its implications for understanding of China's soft power projection. Design/methodology/approachThis paper first presents the theories of soft power and cultural diplomacy as an analytic framework. It then delineates an interpretative illustration of the CI project as a platform for China's cultural diplomacy. The paper concludes with a discussion of the CI project's implications for understanding of China's soft power projection. FindingsThe paper argues that the Confucius Institute project can be understood as a form of cultural diplomacy that is state-sponsored and university-piloted, a joint effort to gain China a more sympathetic global reception. As such, the Confucius Institution project involves a complex of soft power techniques. However, it is not entirely representative of soft power capability, because the problems embedded in the project and in the wider society run counter to the Chinese government's efforts to increase the Confucius Institutions’ attractiveness and popularity. Originality/valueThis article sheds light on Chinese universities in the role of “unofficial cultural diplomats.” On this topic, further research may need to explore more fundamental issues that bear far-reaching significance and impact, i.e. the mechanics of Chinese university involvement in Confucius Institutes. Interesting questions arising from this study may help open up a wider spectrum of research topics for understanding the university-state relationship, cross-border higher education, as well as the possibilities and limits of educational globalization. At this stage, this article serves as a start to move scholarship in that direction.

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Drawing upon qualitative research conducted at Xiamen University (XMU) and its overseas campus, Xiamen University Malaysia (XMUM), this article provides an analysis of transnational education as a component of the soft infrastructure of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). We examine XMUM within wider geopolitical and cultural diplomacy in Asia and as a transnational site in/through which new regional imaginaries, affinities and subjectivities are produced and contested. We highlight the role of historical and cultural affinity - as well as its omission/disruption - in giving shape to XMUM, the limited extent to which mainland Chinese students perform their role as cultural ambassadors, and the multiple imaginative post-study geographies of international and local students that simultaneously centre and decentre China. In doing so, we contend that students’ narratives/practices reinforce but also present alternatives to the imaginaries, affinities, and subjectivities that Chinese transnational education institutes such as XMU and XMUM seek to produce through the vehicle of the BRI.
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No âmbito da iniciativa “uma Faixa e uma Rota”, temos assistido a crescentes esforços por parte da China em criar laços mais estreitos com os países envolvidos nesta iniciativa transcontinental. Tais laços estendem-se aos mais variados domínios, inclusive à arte e cultura, com o objetivo de aproximar e fomentar o conhecimento mútuo das populações dos países envolvidos. O campo das Relações Internacionais caracteriza como “diplomacia pública” este tipo de contactos que envolvem o cidadão comum dos países em diálogo. Numa lógica construtivista, o presente artigo possui como objetivo propor o exercício de uma diplomacia pública “bicultural”, que faça uso de conquistas e realizações comuns do passado, com vista à construção futura de uma “Comunidade de História Compartilhada com a Humanidade” que complemente a noção de “Comunidade com Futuro Compartilhado com a Humanidade” defendida pela liderança chinesa. Como exemplo da aplicabilidade prática de tal tipo de diplomacia, é apresentado o caso da exposição “O País das Cidades Vidradas - 500 anos do Azulejo em Portugal”, que teve lugar no Museu do Palácio em Beijing, como exemplo recente de diplomacia pública “bicultural” entre a China e Portugal. Under the Belt and Road Initiative, we have been witnessing China’s growing efforts to build closer ties with the countries involved in this transcontinental project. Such ties extend to the most varied fields, including art and culture, with the aim of bringing together and fostering mutual knowledge of the populations of the countries involved. According to the terminology of field of International Relations, this type of contact that involves the ordinary citizen of the countries in dialogue is called “public diplomacy”. Following constructivist logic, this article proposes the concept of “bicultural” public diplomacy, which makes use of common achievements from the past, with the purpose of constructing a “Community of Shared History with Humankind” that complements China’s “Community of Shared Destiny with Humankind. We will look at the exhibition “The Land of the Glazed Cities - 500 years of Azulejo in Portugal”, which took place at the Palace Museum in Beijing, as an example of “bicultural” public diplomacy between China and Portugal.
Article
In recent years, China has been using its soft power (most notably, the establishment of Confucius Institutes) to influence public opinion in foreign countries. However, the literature on soft power has yet to provide a definitive answer about whether that has led to a positive image of China in the foreign audience. Additionally, it is not clear if a positive image would influence public attitudes concerning foreign policies in those countries, such as policies related to trade and military conflicts. Based on an online survey experiment in June 2018, this research shows that soft power information (about positive contributions of Confucius Institutes to the American society) does make the US public feel warmer towards China and become more willing to support trade negotiations. However, the warm feeling does not alter public attitudes towards a potential military conflict with China over disputed islands in the South China Sea. Our study provides both empirical support and advice to policymakers interested in the influence of China’s soft power on US public opinion.
Chapter
As mentioned in the introductory chapter (Chap. 1), China’s approach to “outward-oriented” higher education (HE) internationalization for the purpose of enhancing its international status and worldwide influence contains three major dimensions: (1) cultural diplomacy programs such as the Confucius Institute (CI) program, (2) HE-related international development aid towards developing countries, and (3) HE-level international student recruitment strategy and activities. Each of these three dimensions has been researched in previous studies. Following previous perspectives and findings, this chapter provides the main background of the research focus of this book, while introducing different viewpoints from relevant studies.
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La diplomacia cultural se ha convertido en una herramienta eficiente para el posicionamiento de un país a nivel internacional, puesto que busca generar una visión positiva en el público extranjero. Este es el caso de Colombia, que la ha empleado con la finalidad de cambiar la percepción negativa que se tiene del país como consecuencia de la violencia, el narcotráfico y los conflictos presentes en su territorio durante la segunda mitad del siglo pasado. Por tanto, dada la relativa contemporaneidad de la consolidación de esta estrategia, el objetivo de este documento es analizar el diseño y la implementación de la diplomacia cultural de Colombia encaminada a mejorar la percepción del país a nivel internacional. En este propósito se revisan las estrategias implementadas por el Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, su marca país, el impulso de la cultura en el interior de su territorio como un componente fundamental del proceso de paz, la diplomacia cultural de ciudades como Medellín y algunas estadísticas sobre inversión extranjera directa y turismo en el país. Se concluye que Colombia tiene un camino trazado y muchos activos culturales que explotar, aunque debe trabajar en el propósito de innovar y diversificar sus cartas de presentación¸ se debe trabajar entonces de manera articulada para que los resultados de su diplomacia cultural tengan un efecto más allá del cambio de la imagen que tienen del país; además existen grandes retos por superar en materia cultural y educativa, ya que el consumo cultural todavía no es tan asequible para la población.
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Cameroon and China have been cooperating and exchanging in several areas for a long time. In the educational sector, the Confucius Institute plays an important and 'unique' role in the materialisation of the educational and cultural exchange between the two countries. In recent years, the institute is experiencing a resurgence of interest in Chinese language and culture among young Cameroonians. The number of learners enrolled in the Confucius Institute is increasing, and the realisations of the Institute are obvious, it includes the grant of scholarships to study in China, the training programmes for local Chinese teachers and the opportunities of work for graduated students. Nevertheless, despite the success and various realisations of the Confucius Institute in Cameroon, some issues influencing the performance of this institution and the quality of the cooperation need to be addressed. It remains necessary to conduct some reforms on the management of the cooperation to attend an effective and successful educational and cultural exchange and mutual understanding.
Article
Since the foundation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has sought to control every aspect of religion in Chinese society. Recently, the CCP has increasingly leveraged religious institutions to disseminate a positive narrative of its religious policies in an effort to preserve or enhance its relations with countries that identify with those religions. This has enabled Beijing to avoid criticism and even increase international support despite widely reported violations of religious freedom in China. This article expands the concept of religious diplomacy to explain the PRC’s dynamic use of soft power, censorship and coercion in its international relations. Drawing on the examples of Buddhism, Christianity and Islam, this paper explores the CCP’s efforts to mobilize its religious institutions in order to (a) promote China’s unique religious culture, (b) strengthen domestic control through foreign relations and (c) preserve foreign relations by controlling international perceptions.
Chapter
This chapter identifies and examines the synergy between culture and education in South Africa–China relations as key foreign policy strategy to achieve both African Union’s Agenda 2063 and China-led Belt Road Initiative. Particularly assessed is China’s education and training aid to Africa, and South Africa in particular. To explore if there are any instruments, modalities or collaborative mechanisms that are particular to China, which can be facilitated within the parameters of the Pan-African agenda. The chapter argues that China does not apply a blanket approach in promoting its cultural diplomacy and education and training exchanges programme, it prioritises strategic countries where it has vested interests. In the entire world, China has more than hundred Confucius Institutes (the only country with the largest number of Confucius Institutes) in the United States demonstrating its importance in Beijing’s foreign policy. Similarly, South Africa is China’s number one trading partner, it is also the only country in Africa with the largest number of Confucius Institutes. It has as of 2019, six Confucius Institutes out of over 50 allocated to the entire African continent. The chapter concludes that contrary to the view that China is spreading its culture and foreign exchanges programmes across the world and Africa in particular, it has a well-designed model of cooperation and developmental assistance in the promotion of its cultural diplomacy.
Article
Internationalisation facilitated through ‘sister’ relationships establishes transnational, cooperative partnerships and cultural exchanges between institutions within and between geographic locations. This case study describes the long-term sister city internationalisation partnership between two sister universities, one Chinese and one American, that is facilitated through the Confucius Institute project. Ten years of joint activities and events between the years 2009 and 2019 were examined. Benefits to each partnering entity as well as ongoing challenges are presented. Results also uncovered how internationalisation within sister city Confucius Institutes are promoted and implemented. Limitations and implications are discussed.
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Preference is given to the recently published scholarship in prominent journals and publishers. Secondary sources of data related to educational exchanges and its role in diplomacy have been extensively studied. It was observed that whether it's a small country or a major player in the international politics, educational exchanges and bursaries play a vital role in promoting its soft image in addition to culture and history to the foreign audience. Some of the famous providers of scholarships to international students include the USA, UK and China. While recent studies show that China is rising to be the top provider of educational scholarships and the Chinese universities are rapidly getting top positions in the world ranking of universities. Through such initiatives, China's policies are getting acceptance to a greater extent in foreign countries. This study is of high importance to complementary research.
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This study deeply focuses on the perceptions surrounding the operations of Confucius Institute (henceforth CI) in western countries. From the body of academia, intellectual groups and policy makers, CI cooperation with partner institutions are being criticized of hidden agendas through the application of soft power, interferences in host institutions academic work, funding of projects, teacher recruitments, and teaching and learning contents. The above stated issues of western researchers and policy makers have indeed created a negative perception against all CI centers and their operations. This research applied a narrative review of experienced and endowed researchers’ works, associations’ reports, conference and meeting reports, and media publications on CI operations in some western countries. A detail review was conducted on the diverse perceptions being held by these bodies. Eleven qualitative articles out of a 25 were covered due to its clarity and direct relation with the objectives of this review. These articles were found to be very representative with its coverage location. The findings of this review are presented in three parts as follows: Firstly, there are misrepresentations of perceptions on CIs as an arm of Chinese government soft power partner institutions influencing academic work. Secondly, there are contradicting opinions from host institutions and other stakeholders about the clarity of China’s CI in other countries. And thirdly, an in-depth attention was given to the global objectives of all CIs in foreign countries, the extend of transformational changes taking place and possible recommendations that will foster a healthy future cooperation among CI, partner institutions, and respective countries government. Keywords: Confucius Institute, perceptions, western countries, Chinese government, academic freedom
Article
Many scholars have examined how the United States should respond to a rising non-democratic China. Contrary to the well-debated hard power domain, little attention has been devoted to China’s soft power. This study is arguably the first to systematically investigate the US response to the establishment of Confucius Institutes—China’s global initiative to expand soft power. We argue that the US decision to establish Confucius Institutes is influenced by both macro- and micro-level variables. At the macro-level, as suggested by the power transition theory, the United States is more likely to accommodate Confucius Institutes when China shows a higher level of satisfaction with the United States. At the micro-level, US universities and state governments host Confucius Institutes due to budget saving and community engaging. Our analysis sheds light on how the United States makes trade-offs when confronting China’s expanded soft power, and it provides yet another prominent example of money buying influence in international relations.
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Ülkelerin dış politika hedeflerine ulaşmada önemli bir diplomasi aracı olan “kültür” yüzyıllardır bu amaca hizmet etmektedir. Kültürel diplomasinin olumlu sonuçlarını gören devletler, bu diplomasiyi çoğu kez devlet merkezli kurumsal plan ve programlar çerçevesinde bir dış politika aracı olarak kullanmaktadırlar. Hedef, dış politikayı yürütebilecek ortamı sağlamak amacıyla kültürü dışarda tanıtmak ve yayılmasını sağlamaktır. Bunu sağlayacak en önemli araç da “Dil”dir. Çin de dilini ve kültürünü dünyaya tanıtma ve öğretme görevini Konfüçyüs Enstitülerine vermiştir. Kısa bir sürede dünyadaki örneklerini sayıca geçen ve dünyanın hemen hemen her yerinde açılan bu enstitüler, Çin’in kültürel diplomasisinin merkezinde yer almaktadırlar. Konfüçyüs Enstitülerinin işlevi, dış politikayı yürütebilecek uyumlu bir dünya inşa etmek ve aynı zamanda “barışçıl yükseliş”e yardım etmektir. Diğer ülkelerdeki eğitim kurumlarıyla ortaklık çerçevesinde açılan bu enstitüler, kuruldukları günden bugüne hem dışarıdan hem de içeriden eleştiri almaktadır. Bu enstitülerin Çin’in propaganda aracı olduğunu ileri süren dıştaki eleştirilere rağmen içeride de bunun tam aksi olarak Enstitülerin bu görevi yeterince yerine getiremediği yönünde eleştiriler vardır. Bu çalışmada, Enstitülerin kültürel diplomasideki rolü ve enstitülere yapılan eleştiriler ayrıntılı ele alınacaktır.
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Confucius Institute is an educational learning Chinese languageinstitution, integrated within the China Ministry of Education whichhave the task to internationalizing Chinese education in many states. TheConfucius Institute itself has grown rapidly in the United States in thepast ten years. Regarding this phenomenon, there are many anomalieswhich make Confucius Institute should not become bloomed in there, suchas the Chinese-Americans or Chinese spoken are minorities in the UnitedStates. This paper tried to explain why the Confucius Institute can easilyoutspread in the United States during this past ten years. This researchfocused on two things: (1) the relationship between the institution,home country, and host country through bargaining model concept and(2) the application of adaptation strategy with the marketing mix. Theauthor found that the success of Confucius Institute in the United States isbecause there’s a mutually close relationship between the home country andhost country based on bilateral agreement; the mutual close relationshipbetween institution and host country based on bargaining power; and theapplication of marketing mix based on 4P’s and 4C’s.
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Participation in the Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries (China CEEC or 17 + 1) initiative brings significant benefits to the countries in the Balkans. Among them is Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), which joined the annual meeting in Warsaw in 2012 and whose relationship with China is viewed through the broader EU-China-Western Balkans nexus. Although generally still modest, three sectors where China’s presence is most visible in BiH are the energy industry, infrastructure projects and cultural diplomacy. The aim of the paper was to examine the perceptions of China-CEEC mechanism by young politicians and civil society organizations (CSO) members up to the 30 years of age. The research found that the overall perspective on the mechanism was positive and that the respondents supported greater presence of China through cultural activities and models of development offered within China-CEEC. However, respondents strictly emphasized the importance of compliance with EU environmental standards and guidelines, as well as the importance of compliance with all legal frameworks under which Chinese companies operate in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Book
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Образование - это мощный инструмент мягкой силы. Изучение образовательных программ Erasmus, Сетевого университета СНГ и Университета ШОС, Международных образовательных программ в ЕС и на постсоветском пространстве, их настоящего и будущего позволяет лучше понять роль академической мобильности в содействии укреплению политической коммуникации в европейском и евразийском регионах. Кроме того, данная книга является первым сравнительным исследованием программы Erasmus, а также Сетевого университета СНГ и Университета ШОС - двумя образовательными программами, вдохновленными проектами внутри Erasmus Mundus, направленными на укрепление академической мобильности России с постсоветскими странами и Китаем.
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The objective of the present paper is to analyse and compare activities and actors of cultural diplomacy of Slovakia, Austria, China and the US. Since cultural diplomacy is a rather complex phenomenon, we predominantly focus on the targets and activities conducted by official cultural institutes. Besides, we look at the countries´ participation in international organisations pursuing common cultural policy. The research is supported by both domestic and foreign scientific sources and official websites of ministries, cultural institutes, statistical offices and similar. The outcome of the research are recommendations for improvement of cultural diplomacy practices of the selected countries. We conclude that the numbers of official entities responsible for cultural diplomacies of respective countries differ considerably. However, their agendas are similar.
Article
Over the past century, the ‘culture and trade’ debate has constantly evolved, particularly in the wake of rapid and still accelerating technological and scientific advances. These changes, manifest in an increasing convergence of many new technologies and industries, meant that the strict separation of culture from trade by means, for instance, of general or special exceptions in international trade agreements, such as the 1947 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) or the 1988 Canada–United States Free Trade Agreement (CUSFTA), can no longer be sustained. It means that in light of the emergence of oxymoronic concepts like ‘the cultural and creative industries’, the debate can no longer be framed along binary modes of thinking that oppose the liberalization of international trade and the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultures. Instead a more holistic approach seems to be needed, which appears to coincide with the approach taken by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), which joined the WTO in 2001. The present paper examines the holistic approach by the PRC, which seeks to combine rather than separate culture and trade in its domestic, regional and global law and policymaking.
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This article adopts the lens of a global “cultural terrain of struggle” in unfolding analytical comparisons of the Confucius Institute with its Western counterparts in three layers: their purposes, operating models and provisions. It explains why the Confucius Institute has similar goals to its Western counterparts but is perceived differently from them, and what gives the Institute its unique Chinese features. The hidden barriers are revealed by employing the theoretical frameworks of Orientalism, cultural hegemony and the knowledge–power nexus. The difference in operating models is surely a major factor that distinguishes the Confucius Institute from its Western counterparts, but it is an oversimplification to only focus on the visible difference in locations without challenging the roles of Orientalism and cultural hegemony, at the heart of which lie hidden differences in power positions in this uneven terrain. In discussing some closures of Confucius Institutes, the article also reveals that the Chinese government’s role as both a sponsor and censor is another critical difference and a major factor that attracts scepticism.
Article
Cultural diplomacy always links to and often overlaps with soft power and public diplomacy. Thus, the three notions have entered the lexicon of International Relations, and have become standard terms in foreign policy thinking. Drawing on the conceptualization of cultural diplomacy, this article examines the features, structure, actors, and possibilities of Turkey’s foreign cultural strategy. Specifically, it focuses on an analysis of the double dimension of Turkish cultural diplomacy, the high-culture, and the pop-culture, asserting that the success of the latter has allowed Turkey to limit the damage to its soft power caused by domestic political turmoil. Furthermore, the research aims to highlight how Turkey has used culture as a resource for its diplomacy –useful for strengthening relations with other countries, enhancing cooperation, and promoting Turkish interests abroad.
Article
By 2016, Hanban, a propaganda arm of the Chinese government, had successfully established Confucius Institutes (CIs) at 15% of the largest institutions of higher education, including some of the most prestigious institutions, and in almost every state across the United States. The authors describe in detail the extent of penetration by Hanban and its strategies of cooptation and discuss the public reaction to these “soft power” beachheads. This study employs four sources of evidence to help demonstrate how and why the Chinese “soft power” initiative has been successful in the United States. First, the authors compare 655 of the largest 4-year colleges and universities to assess what kind of universities have been targeted by the Chinese government. Second, we conducted a survey of U.S. directors of CIs to explore their perceptions of their own CI’s public image and the relationship between their U.S. university and its Chinese partner university. Third, the authors analyze 2,733 news stories mentioning CIs gathered from U.S. newspapers during the period from 2004 to 2016 to learn how CIs projected their legitimacy as an integral part of universities across the United States. Finally, the authors analyze 107 CI websites at U.S. universities to help describe their general features and their activity in public outreach. With very positive local media coverage, CIs are active in curriculum and public outreach, and the majority of U.S. directors of CIs are confident about their public image and satisfied with their relationship with Chinese partner universities and Hanban. The authors conclude by speculating about why this Chinese “soft power” initiative has been so successful.
Article
China is highly concerned about its global image and is thus increasingly active in promoting itself globally. The most prominent and most controversial tool of China’s global image management is the Confucius Institute (CI). Launched in 2004 to introduce Chinese language and culture globally, CIs are normally joint ventures between Chinese and international universities, and are partially funded by the Chinese government. These close links with official China have raised concerns about their aims and have triggered heated debates about their intentions. While proponents describe CIs as a benign instrument of cultural exchange, critics define them as the propaganda arm of the Chinese Communist Party. This paper provides empirical evidence related to these debates as it critically engages with the actual content CIs present to their audiences by analysing internal work reports from 50 CIs in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. The paper outlines the specific narratives CIs present to global audiences and finds a clear agenda to present an apolitical version of China by emphasising elements of traditional Chinese culture and mostly avoiding controversial political topics.
Article
In recent years, an increasing number of scholars have devoted close attention to China’s expanded soft power, and many of them have examined the establishment of Confucius Institutes around the world. However, despite the ample scholarship on the Confucius Institute, a large-N empirical assessment is missing. In this study, we make an original and important contribution to the literature by conducting a large-N empirical analysis to demonstrate how China employs the Confucius Institute to maximize soft power in the era of China’s rise. Based on a new dataset that includes all world countries from 2004 to 2014, our large-N analysis shows that the Confucius Institute is designed to promote China’s educational, economic, and political interests altogether. These interesting empirical findings constitute arguably the first systematic evidence to demonstrate how China designs the Confucius Institute to maximize soft power.
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China’s global presence has become a significant subject. However, little attention has been directed to the role of higher education in projecting China’s soft power, and little academic work has been done directly on it, despite the fact that there has been some work on related topics. Borrowing the theories of soft power and higher education internationalisation, this article aims to fill in the gap in the literature by investigating China’s projection of soft power via the conduit of recently established Confucius Institutes. Aiming to facilitate a more nuanced appraisal of China’s global power and influence, it looks at Chinese higher education policy in a global context from the perspective of international power relations. Incorporating findings from an empirical case study of one Confucius Institute (based at a major Australian university) as a new distinctive model of international exchange and cooperation in higher education, this article looks at how Chinese universities interact with their international peers, in a context where China wants its universities to rival the best in the world, and invests heavily in its top universities.
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China’s economic power is changing attitudes towards Mandarin Chinese worldwide. Chinese as a foreign language (CFL) consequently emerges as a subject for research as well as an educational market. This article investigates the modern evolution of CFL curriculum policy that has led to the current rapid growth of the Confucius Institute (CI) around the world, using media sources including government policy, Confucius Institutes themselves, newspaper reports from the Internet, and individual blogs posted by teachers of Chinese language, as well as university academics’ observations. It opens up a discussion of the implications of the development of China’s CFL policy, particularly through the Confucius Institutes, in diversifying the world’s lingua franca and sharing the market of education in the coming era. The analysis indicates that it is unlikely that Chinese will displace English as the world’s most widely used language in the foreseeable future, but the view that the Chinese language is an important element in the future unity of the world has been voiced. KeywordsChinese as a foreign language-Policy-Curriculum-Confucius Institutes
Article
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, China is poised to become a major global power. And though much has been written of China's rise, a crucial aspect of this transformation has gone largely unnoticed: the way that China is using soft power to appeal to its neighbors and to distant countries alike. This book is the first to examine the significance of China's recent reliance on soft power-diplomacy, trade incentives, cultural and educational exchange opportunities, and other techniques-to project a benign national image, position itself as a model of social and economic success, and develop stronger international alliances. Drawing on years of experience tracking China's policies in Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Africa, Joshua Kurlantzick reveals how China has wooed the world with a "charm offensive" that has largely escaped the attention of American policy makers. Beijing's new diplomacy has altered the political landscape in Southeast Asia and far beyond, changing the dynamics of China's relationships with other countries. China also has worked to take advantage of American policy mistakes, Kurlantzick contends. In a provocative conclusion, he considers a future in which China may be the first nation since the Soviet Union to rival the United States in international influence.
Article
Since 2004 China has set up over 700 Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms around the world to promote its language and culture and thereby to shape its image. Despite this impressive number Confucius Institutes are surprisingly understudied, especially in terms of their actual structure, operation mode and activities. This paper uses German Confucius Institutes as a case study to bridge this gap. It first discusses the concepts of public and cultural diplomacy and culture institutes as a conceptual tool to analyze Confucius Institutes. It then turns to the case study to provide empirical data to better understand this instrument of China’s image shaping efforts. It argues that Confucius Institutes are connected to the rise of China and a unique member of the family of national culture institutes.
Article
Soft power is the ability to affect others to obtain the outcomes one wants through attraction rather than coercion or payment. A country's soft power rests on its resources of culture, values, and policies. A smart power strategy combines hard and soft power resources. Public diplomacy has a long history as a means of promoting a country's soft power and was essential in winning the cold war. The current struggle against transnational terrorism is a struggle to win hearts and minds, and the current overreliance on hard power alone is not the path to success. Public diplomacy is an important tool in the arsenal of smart power, but smart public diplomacy requires an understanding of the roles of credibility, self-criticism, and civil society in generating soft power.
Article
Public diplomacy is a term much used but seldom subjected to rigorous analysis. This article—which draws heavily on a report commissioned by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the spring of 2007—sets out a simple taxonomy of public diplomacy's components and their interrelationships. These components are (1) listening, (2) advocacy, (3) cultural diplomacy, (4) exchange, and (5) international broadcasting. It examines five successful and five unsuccessful uses of each individual component drawing from the history of U.S., Franco-German, Swiss, and British diplomatic practice. The failures arise chiefly from a discrepancy between rhetoric and reality. The final section applies the author's taxonomy to the challenges of contemporary public diplomacy and places special emphasis on the need to conceptualize the task of the public diplomat as that of the creator and disseminator of “memes” (ideas capable of being spread from one person to another across a social network) and as a creator and facilitator of networks and relationships.
Article
The Confucius Institutes have been established by the Chinese government which operates them in collaboration with foreign universities and educational institutions in order to promote understanding of the Chinese language and culture. The first Confucius Institute opened its doors in Seoul, South Korea in 2004. Within the past seven years, 353 Confucius Institutes and 473 Confucius Classrooms have been established in 104 countries and regions. It is quite unusual for a language school to be able to make progress so rapidly. These developments raise a series of basic questions. First, what are the Confucius Institutes? What are their purpose and function? How have they been able to multiply so quickly? Are Confucius Institutes instruments of China's soft power? This article seeks to answer these questions by analyzing the details behind the establishment of Confucius Institutes, their organizational mechanism, and their activities. This paper concludes that due to insufficiency of cultural content and key concepts which can typify contemporary China, it is hard to see Confucius Institutes as China's soft power.
Article
China is setting up Confucius Institutes around the world to spread its language and culture and to increase collaboration with foreign academic institutions. The institutes could increase China's "soft power" and help it project an image of itself as a benign country. Concerns exist about a "Trojan horse" effect.
Article
This article explores the background to the Chinese government's decision to embark on a programme of promoting the study of Chinese language and culture overseas. This includes the impact of Joseph Nye's concept of ‘soft power’ in China, ownership of the national language, the Confucius connection, and how these factors interact with political legitimacy. It also considers the development of the Confucius Institute programme in Europe. Europe has the greatest number of Confucius Institutes of any region: what should be read into this? What impact are these institutes having on the development of Chinese language education in Europe at different levels of the educational system? The paper provides some data on recent developments, outlines some of the obstacles to further progress and assesses the chances of Chinese becoming a global language.
Article
This is a documentary study of education abroad policy in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) between 1978 and 2009. By examining the dynamics underpinning the PRC state’s efforts to shape the flow of Chinese students and scholars from and into China, this article reveals the major strategies that have enabled education abroad to become a source of brain gain. It argues that China’s brain gain strategies feature three characteristics: a proactive diplomatic approach to international educational relations; strategic dependence on foreign higher education resources and a decentralized economic mechanism to raise foreign-trained human capital. The paper concludes by discussing the implications of Chinese experience for our understanding of the complex and dynamic relations between the state, the market, universities and international relations as relating to cross-border academic mobility, international educational relations, and national development in a globalizing world. Keywordsthe State–development–human capital–education abroad–brain gain
Zhongxi Xuezhe tan Kongzi Xueyuan he Zhongguo Ruan shili (Western and Chinese scholars talk about Confucius Institutes and China's soft power)
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