Sino-ASEAN Geopolitical Relations through International Student Mobility: Manifestations of Soft Power through Education

Document Type : Original Article


Associate Professorial Lecturer Department of Political Science and Development Studies, De La Salle University, Philippines


China has become a competitive player in the global higher education landscape with a growing number of Chinese universities being part of the global rankings. With the significant improvement in the quality of some Chinese universities, education as a soft power was deployed by China toward ASEAN countries. This strategy was particularly evident in PRC Ministry of Education’s appeal to Chinese universities to serve the nation’s diplomatic strategies. This paper puts into perspective Sino-ASEAN people-to-people exchange and institutional linkages in the aspect of education. Overall, the article examines the intersections of soft power, geopolitics, and student mobility as situated in the Sino-ASEAN context. Through secondary data analysis, the trend of student mobility from ASEAN countries to China was traced. The results reveal that the ASEAN student outflows to China have been gradually increasing.  By strategically accepting more ASEAN students to Chinese universities, China assists in the development of ASEAN’s human resources and continues to be perceived as a partner in the region’s development


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Volume 18, Issue 68
January 2022
Pages 412-429
  • Receive Date: 05 March 2021
  • Revise Date: 18 November 2021
  • Accept Date: 19 February 2022
  • First Publish Date: 26 February 2022