Explanation of the Position of Smart Power in China's Foreign Policy

Document Type : Original Article


1 Ph.D Student of International Relations, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran

2 Full Professor of International Relations, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

3 International Relations Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran


Extended Abstract
In the last decades and following the international changes, many countries and in particular China have come to this conclusion which it is necessary that they adopt themselves with the new international conditions and search for a new type of power in order to pursue their goals and interests. Since applying only one type of hard or soft power will endanger the long-term interests of the country, Chinese emphasis on this key point that they require a combination of both hard power and soft power which is well known as smart power in the international arena.
With a descriptive-analytical method and the conceptual framework of smart power, this study intended to explain what kind of power is pursued in China's foreign policy to pursue its goals, and how they use various power sources for their own goals and interests.
Over the past few decades, China's foreign policy has pursued two types of hard and soft power in the international arena.
1- Hard power: During these years, foreign policy along with other parts of the Chinese community has taken a lot of efforts to upgrade hard power sources. Economically, it has always sought to avoid international challenges and attract international resources for China's economic development process. Militarily, it has played a major role in China’s military modernization process
2- Soft power: Unlike Joseph Nye, China presented a wider definition of soft power and considered economic components as soft power.
3- The role of international institutions in the process of China's empowerment: At the moment, China's foreign policy is seeking to access their goals and interests through active participation in international organizations or the establishment of new institutions.
4- China’s economic attractions: China's foreign policy, in the framework of interdependence and win - win politics, is intended to pursue their political, security and economic interests in the regional and international arena.
5- China’s diplomacy: By pursuing comprehensive diplomacy, China's foreign policy has expanded its interactions with the other countries and international organizations, and has applied such a tool to extend its influence, power and development.
6- China’s traditional culture: although the Chinese culture has grown less than other components of power, nevertheless china’s culture has a considerable influence on the regional level. Furthermore, it is worth to mention that the China's foreign policy seeks to expand Chinese culture and language through the Confucian institutions.
China's foreign policy pursues many goals in the international arena. With regard to new international changes, it believes that a combination of soft and hard power helps to reach at politic, economic and security interests. As well, reaching to a great power position and confronting new international threats, they have to follow a new form of power called smart power that combines hard and soft power. Therefore, in recent decades, especially in the Xi Jin Ping period, pursues various forms of soft and hard power such as diplomacy, culture, military modernization, economic etc. on the agenda of china’s foreign policy.
The emergence of new international conditions has led the China's foreign policy to seek a new pattern of power and security. This new pattern will be achieved within the framework of combining various sources of power. Because pursuing hard or soft power alone, cannot protect the country's long-term goals. In the shadow of the smart approach, the Chinese find more opportunity to engage with international society and its organizations. Smart power also aids to provide fairly good picture of china in its relation with others and can better counteract the challenge of China's threat.


1-                  Allen, Kenneth, Dennis J. Blasko, and John F. Corbett. (2016) "The PLA’s New Organizational Structure: What is Known, Unknown and Speculation (Part 1)." China Brief 16.3.
2-                  Antonescu, Mădălina (2015), The New Chinese Security Concept and the “Peaceful Rise of China”, Foreign Policy.
3-                  Alvand, Marzieh Sadat & Asgar Khani Abu Mohammad (2014); the Function of Soft Power in China's Foreign Policy, Journal of International Policy, No. 1. Tehran [in Persian].
4-                  Anand, Brig Vinod (2016), Trends in Chinese Military Modernization: Implications and Responses, Vivekananda International Foundation.
5-                  Annual Report to Congress (2017), Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China, office of the secretary of defense.
6-                  Annual Report to Congress (2016), Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China.
7-                  Bo, Lo Jian (2006), Development of China's Cultural Strategy in Foreign, Translator: eli Dong Lee Journal of the Institute of Contemporary Studies of China No. 3. Tehran, [in Persian].
8-                  Bretchell, Scott and others (2012), Theories of International Relations, Translation by Homira Mushirzadeh and Ruhollah Talebi Arani, Legal Foundation, Tehran, [in Persian].
9-                  Dasheeri, Mohammad Reza & Bahrami Zahra (2015), the Strategic view of Chinese to Brix, Central Asia Studies and Caucasus No. 89, Tehran, [in Persian].
10-              Dehghani Firoozabadi, SeyedJalal & Mehdi , Farazi (2011), The Obstacles and Opportunities of China in the Middle East,Political Science Journal, No. 4, Tehran[in Persian].
11-              Dehghani, Firoozabadi, SeyedJalal (2015), Principles of International Relations (1), samt, Tehran [in Persian].
12-              Deloitte, (2016) Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index, 2016, available at: https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/manufacturing/us-gmci.pdf.
13-              Deng, Yong (2009), The New Hard Realities: Soft Power and China in Transition. Soft power: China’s emerging strategy in international politics: 63-81.
14-              Ding, Sheng (2010), Analyzing Rising Power from the Perspective of Soft Power: a new look at China's rise to the status quo power." Journal of Contemporary China 19.64: 255-272
15-              Edney, Kingsley (2015), Building National Cohesion and Domestic Legitimacy: A Regime Security Approach to Soft Power in China, the Author. Politics © 2015 Political Studies Association politics.
16-              Ghasemi, Farhad (2014), International regimes, publishing of meezan, Tehran [in Persian].
17-              Heath, Timothy (2013), Diplomacy work forum: Xi steps up efforts to shape a China-centered regional order. China Brief 13.22.
18-              Gallarotti, Giulio M (2015), Smart power: Definitions, importance, and effectiveness. Journal of Strategic Studies 38.3: 245-281.
19-              Heng, Yee-Kuang (2105), Smart Power and Japan’s Self-Defense Forces. Journal of Strategic Studies 38.3 :282-308.
20-              Heath, Timothy R; Kristen Gunness & Cortez A. Cooper (2016), the PLA and Chinas Rejuvenation: National Security and Military Strategies, Deterrence Concepts, and Combat Capabilities. No. RR-1402-OSD. RAND Corporation-National Defense Research Institute Santa Monica United States.
21-              http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2017-10/07/content_32950016.htm. Over 500 Confucius Institutes founded in 142 countries, regions.
23-              Ikenberry, G. JOHN & Darren J. Lim (2017), "China’s emerging institutional statecraft." (2017): 42.
24-              Jiechi, Yang (2013), Implementing the Chinese dream. National Interest 10.
25-              Jinping, Xi (2014), New Asian security concept for new progress in security cooperation. Remarks at the fourth summit of the conference on Interaction and confidence building measures in Asia, Shanghai.
26-              Kai, J. (2013), Can China Build a Community of Common Destiny? The Diplomat, 28.
27-              Kerr, Pauline & Geoffrey Wiseman, Eds (2013). Diplomacy in a globalizing world: Theories and practices. New York: Oxford university press.
28-              Li, Ming Jiang (2011), Soft power: China’s emerging strategy in international politics, translator: Askar Ghahremanpour, Imam Sadiq University, Tehran, [in Persian].
29-              Li, Dongyan (2010), November 8th, China Defines Its New Role in International Organizations, Renmin Ribao (People’s Daily).
30-              Li, Ming (2009), Soft Power in Chinese Discourse: Popularity and Prospect. In M. Li(Ed), Soft Power China’s Emerging Strategy in International Politics,New York: Lexington Books.
31-              Mingjiang, Li (2008), China debates soft power." The Chinese journal of international politics 2.2: 287-308.
32-              Li, Xin and Verner Worm (2010), November, Building China’s Soft Power for a Peaceful Rise, Building China’s Soft Power for a Peaceful Rise , Published online:  Journal of Chinese Political Science.
33-              Lum, Thomas (2010), China and the U. S: comparing global influence, (New York: Nova science publisher).
34-              Ma, Xiuli, et al (2017), The teaching of Chinese as a second or foreign language: a systematic review of the literature 2005–2015." Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development: 815-830.
35-              Moshirzadeh Homira, Ebrahimi, Nabiollah (2011), Transformation of Concepts in International Relations, Strategic Studies, Tehran [in Persian].
36-              Nossel, Suzanne (2004), March /April, Smart Power, Foreign Affairs.
37-              Pour Najafi, Vajihe Sadat, Shahrooz Behroozi (2015); Iran's Strategic Capacity in the Peaceful Doctrine of China, Geopolitics No. 39, Tehran [in Persian].
38-              Qin Yaqing (2007), Harmonious World: A New Concept in China’s Diplomacy, Lilun Cankao [Theory Reference], No. 5.
39-              Ramo, Joshua Cooper (2004), TheBeijingConsensus.London: ForeignPolicy Center.
40-              Sariolghalam, Mahmood (2011), the Concept of the Power and Performance of Foreign Policy: China and Iran, Journal of Foreign Relations, No. 9, Tehran [in Persian].
41-              Sazmand, Bahareh & Rahim Bayazidi (2012), Summer, The soft power of China and the peaceful rise of China in South-East Asia, Journal of Political Studies, No. 16, Tehran, [in Persian].
42-              Shambaugh, David (2013), china goes global. Published in the United States of America by Oxford University Press.
43-              Shariati Nia, Mohsen (2008), Foreign Policy of China: Interaction of Diplomacy and Economic Development: Tehran, Economic Diplomacy [in Persian].
44-              Sulimanpour, Hadi (2014), USA, China and the international system, Political science journal, No 3, Tehran, [in Persian].
45-              Tao, X. (2017), Chinese Foreign Policy with Xi Jinping Characteristics, http://carnegieendowment.org.
46-              Wan, Ming (2010). The great recession and China's policy toward Asian regionalism. Asian Survey 50.3: 520-538.
47-              Wang, Jisi (2004), ‘China’s changing role in Asia’, the rise of China and a changing East Asian order, Tokyo: Japan Center for International Exchange.
48-              Wang, Hongying. & Lu, Yeh- chang (2008), The Conception of Soft Power and its Policy Implications: a comparative study of China and Taiwan. Journal of Contemporary China.
49-              Wayne M. Morrison (2017), China’s Economic Rise: History, Trends, Challenges, and Implications for the United States , Congressional Research Service.
50-              Wilson III, Ernest J (2008), Hard power, soft power, smart power. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 616.1 :110-124.
51-              Wuthnow, Joel; Xin Li & Lingling Qi (2012), Diverse multilateralism: Four strategies in China’s multilateral diplomacy. Journal of Chinese Political Science 17.3: 269-290.
52-              Xi Jinping (2016), inaugurates Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, says China will take more international responsibility, https://www.japantimes.co.
53-              Xie, Zhihai (2011), The Rise of China and Its Growing Role in International Organizations, ICCS Journal of Modern Chinese Studies .
54-              Zhang, Jian (2015), China's new foreign policy under Xi Jinping: towards ‘Peaceful Rise 2.0’? Global Change, Peace & Security 27.1: 5-19.
55-              Zicheng, Ye and Qingmin, Zhang (2013), Chinese diplomacy in the contemporary era, translated by Abbas Kardan, in the book of diplomacy in the age of globalization of Paulin keer and Jeffrey Weisman, Contemporary Abrar Institute of Iran, Tehran, [in Persian].