Joe Nye answers your questions on China
Harvard Professor Joseph Nye
March 14th, 2011
02:59 PM ET

Joe Nye answers your questions on China

Last week, we invited Global Public Square readers to pose questions to international relations scholar Joe Nye (who just published a new book, "The Future of Power").

Below are Professor Nye's responses to reader questions about China. Tomorrow we'll post Professor Nye's answers to other questions:

Question from John: Is “soft power” enough to make China raise the value of their currency, or will “hard power” become necessary? Soft power didn't seem to work at the G-20.

Joe Nye: Hard power is the ability to get preferred outcomes by coercion or payment; soft power relies on attraction and persuasion. Both have some role in the issue of the revaluation of the renminbi.

The congressional threat of tariffs and quotas is an example of hard power. While it may have caught Chinese attention, it has not alone solved the problem. The efforts at the G-20 to develop a consensus that the world needs to do something about global imbalances is an example of persuasion and soft power. That has not solved the problem either, but it holds some promise for the future.

Interestingly, China’s 12th Five-Year Plan sets goals of increasing domestic consumption, reducing dependence on export industries and shifting growth from the coast to the interior of the country. A revaluation of the renminbi would promote these goals and help stem the inflation that has now become a major concern in China. When I have asked Chinese economists why they don’t revalue since it is in China’s interest, they reply that it is because of the political resistance from the coastal export industries and associated party officials. This suggests that persuasion could gradually help shift the internal balance of forces inside China.

Question from Lauri Tammi: The People's Republic of China has effectively launched a global soft power "charm offensive". In your opinion, how do you think China will manage in the following years and decades compared to the present superpower, the U.S.? Whom should other nations, particularly within Europe, align with?

Joe Nye: In 2007, China President Hu Jintao told the 17th Congress of the Communist Party that China needed to increase its soft power. Over the past decade, China’s economic and military might has grown impressively, but one result has been to frighten its neighbors and lead them to look for allies to balance rising Chinese hard power. As I explain in my new book, “The Future of Power,” when a country can increase its soft power of attraction, its neighbors feel less need to balance its power.

For example, Canada and Mexico do not seek alliances with China to balance American power the way Asian countries seek an American presence to balance China. As a result, China is spending billions of dollars on a charm offensive to increase its soft power. Chinese aid programs to Africa and Latin America do not worry about the institutional or human-rights issues that limit Western aid. China has always had an attractive traditional culture, and now it has created several hundred Confucius Institutes around the world to teach its language and culture.

The enrollment of foreign students in China has increased from 36,000 a decade ago to 240,000 last year. In 2009, Beijing announced plans to spend billions of dollars to develop global media giants to compete with Bloomberg, Time Warner and Viacom – using soft power rather than military might to win friends abroad.

But for all its efforts, China has a limited return to show on its investment. A recent BBC poll shows that opinions of China’s influence are positive in much of Africa and Latin America, but predominantly negative in the United States, Europe, India, Japan and South Korea.

These results are similar to a poll taken in Asia after the Beijing Olympics. The poll found China’s soft power to be less than that of the United States, and it concluded that “China’s charm offensive has thus far been ineffective.” Great powers try to use culture and narrative to create soft power that promotes their advantage, but it is not always an easy sell if it is inconsistent with their domestic realities. So as long as China locks up dissidents like Liu Xiaobo and throws human-rights activists in jail, it will have a hard time attracting support in places like Europe or other democratic countries.

Question from Roy: Do you think China is more concerned about internal threats than external threats?

Joe Nye: China is concerned about both internal and external threats, but I think the leaders are more concerned about internal. In the aftermath of the revolutions in the Middle East, it is interesting to see Chinese leaders intensifying their censorship of the internet and arresting lawyers involved in human-rights issues. In my view, a Jasmine-type revolution in China is unlikely, but apparently Chinese leaders do not agree.

Part of the problem is that Chinese Communist Party rule is no longer legitimized by the ideology of communism, which few believe in anymore. The system is sometimes jokingly called “market Leninism.” Legitimacy is provided by a high rate of economic growth and ethnic Han nationalism, but leaders seem to fear that this will be insufficient without adding the hard power of repression.

Question from Kenta: I am a student of Hiroshima University in Japan. It is almost impossible for us, Japanese, not to feel fear for China. How should Japan and Asian nations react to a growing China, and how can we manage future problems?

Joe Nye: It is understandable that much of the Japanese public is concerned about the rise of China. Not only has the 10% rate of economic growth put China ahead of Japan as the second-largest economy in the world, but for the past decade China’s military budget has grown even more rapidly than its economy. And for internal political reasons, Chinese leaders find it useful to stir nationalistic support by reminding their public of Japanese imperialism in the 1930s.

It was interesting to observe the Japanese public response to China’s overreaction to the incident of a fishing boat collision near the Senkaku/Daiyutai islands last autumn. A year ago, the newly elected Democratic Party of Japan was trying to improve relations with China, and Ozawa led nearly 200 Diet members on a visit to Beijing.

After the Senkaku incident, Japanese public opinion turned heavily against China. As one Japanese academic observed, “In football terminology, China scored an own-goal.” But it would be a mistake to let fear of China get out of hand. As long as it maintains its alliance with the United States, Japan will be protected from Chinese aggression. And both the U.S. and Japan share a long-term objective to encourage a rising China to become what World Bank President Robert Zoellick has referred to as “a responsible stakeholder.” If we succeed in that, there will be less reason for fear.

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Topics: China • Global • Q&A

soundoff (104 Responses)
  1. Choman

    It's funny you are making pyschological remarks. You can't even construct a decent argument, now you are an expert in pyschology?! HAHAHA. Yet another sign of desperation, my little tomtom. This is a "great" day for China, yes keep supporting China the way you do, hahaha

    March 21, 2011 at 4:26 am | Reply
    • Tomtom

      Is that all you got Choman? lmao u have no dont stand for anything. Go to sleep, you got nothing.

      March 21, 2011 at 4:33 am | Reply
  2. Choman

    Kindergarden? That's where you are from. Who is more smart and educated? The one who can't construct a single argument, or the who is laughing at the one who can't construct a single argument. Only a REAL TROLL will resort to assuming different names. Ouch, that gotta hurt, tomtom. Give up, you can't win.

    March 21, 2011 at 4:31 am | Reply
    • Tomtom

      oooooh good one!....NOT!! LMAO is this how you make quips...very weak Choman..maybe you should try in your native tongue, you might have better luck, because from where Im look like a joke...seriously lmao

      March 21, 2011 at 4:37 am | Reply
    • Tomtom

      uhh dumbass..its you who cant construct an english sentence...your sentence structure needs serious work man..My english is perfect...You are the one who has english as a second language not me..remember that you idiot!! God your dumb lmao

      March 21, 2011 at 4:44 am | Reply
  3. Tomtom

    you cant construct an cant even speak english...english obviously is your second language because the crap you write is god awful and sounds like an esl student. You suck..your english skills dont match mine...If you had half a brain you would know im not from which is why I have zero respect for trash like you. Seriously go away, you are embarrassing yourself everytime you open that stupid mouth of yours

    March 21, 2011 at 4:35 am | Reply
  4. Tomtom

    actually I had a couple of my friends over at my house...and I showed them how this loser was making a fool of themselves..thats when they all wanted to tell you what a good job you have been doing at embarrassing yourself lol. Congrats you really are a clown!! Oh btw, my friends Isabelle and Cindy just want to let you know what a loser you are lmao and also my friend from australia who is staying over for the weekend, Steve. They all think you are pathetic lmao
    And I cant argue with really are pathetic.

    March 21, 2011 at 4:41 am | Reply
  5. Choman

    English skills? Don't you think I am baiting you, you sorry little midget? I am learning to write the way many Chinese write English. And please, if you are not from China, why are you defending it so hard, yet unable to produce a single coherent piece of argument? You are just like those nutcase Chinese nationalists. Defending the CCP while displaying their ignorance for all the world to see. And respect? Who is talking about respect here? You think I actually respect you?! HAHAHA

    March 21, 2011 at 4:44 am | Reply
    • Tomtom

      baiting you arent that clever...and its obvious from your responses that your english is second seriously have terrible english skills, why dont you take more classes before you speak to me again..I dont want to listen to a second class immigrant like yourself. lmao

      March 21, 2011 at 4:47 am | Reply
  6. Choman

    If anyone has problems it is you. You have a multipersonality disorder. I don't need any "imaginary" friends like "Isabelle" or "Cindy" or "Steve" to post comments. Yet somehow you do. You need to see a doctor man.

    March 21, 2011 at 4:47 am | Reply
  7. Tomtom

    You are an egotistical narcissistic fool suffering from delusions of grandeur..obviously a second class citizen who has english as a second language..I refuse to speak to people who lack basic english skills Choman, Im sorry. come back when you brush up on your english ok...say in 5-10 years..then you will have the capacity to challenge the meantime..piss off lol lol

    March 21, 2011 at 4:49 am | Reply
  8. Choman

    Sure, don't speak to me. No one is forcing you to. Yet you just can't help it can you? HAHA. You tried to "igore" me, yeah and how successful is that? Why do I have the feeling you will respond to this comment yet again?

    March 21, 2011 at 4:52 am | Reply
  9. Tomtom

    no you have some serious underlying neurosis man..get help....low self-esteem which manifests itself as narcissistic personality disorder. You should be locked away in a straight jacket in some mental hospital lol. Maybe they can teach you english skills there too? You can look into it...lmao lol

    March 21, 2011 at 4:52 am | Reply
  10. Tomtom

    bye bye you second class stupid idiot with english as a second language trying to pose like you are smart lol..I could see you coming from a mile away lmao. very very stupid, yet you think you are smart...that is the problem with you..well, one of many..but that is a big problem of your immigrant english

    March 21, 2011 at 4:54 am | Reply
  11. Choman

    HAHAHA. See, my prediction is correct yet again. I just KNOW you can't resist the temptation to reply with yet another retarded remark. Hey if I am disturbed, what makes you? I'm not the one who is here posing with differnt names. I'm not the one who is contradicting himself. Hey, if China is so strong, why don't it retake Taiwan now? I'm sure it will be a piece of cake, if as you claimed, China is so strong that it can "crush" the US.

    March 21, 2011 at 4:58 am | Reply
    • Tomtom

      lmao yeah yeah
      now..about your english as a second language....

      March 21, 2011 at 5:01 am | Reply
  12. Tomtom

    im surprised you even dare to speak with such crappy english...If I were you I would look back at what you wrote and that is some crappy english im putting out there..and yet I have the nerve to try to challenge a native born speaker...lmao you really are crazy..and delusional.

    March 21, 2011 at 5:03 am | Reply
  13. Tomtom

    Seriously, if there was an award on cnn blog for worst use of english language, you would win that Choman hands down. I mean you clearly are Fresh Off the Boat from wherever the hell you are from. And your english shows that you are still wet behind the ears lol. Seriously, dont speak again, you are only making it worse for yourself. you have already embarrassed yourself to no end with your lack of basic english grammar and your inablility to string together 2 sentences without making serious errors. So Shut the hell up you FOB. or Ill have you deported

    March 21, 2011 at 5:08 am | Reply
  14. Choman

    Now about your ability to construct a proper argument...

    Native-born speaker? What a load of crap, tomtom. It's clear as day you represent China. Don't you think that's a little old to keep harping on the fact that you aren't from China when in fact you are? I guess not, since clearly, you aren't able to even construct an argument.

    March 21, 2011 at 5:11 am | Reply
    • Tomtom

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA the fact that you still think Im from China shows how retarded you are..does my english sound like I am from China..comon Choman, you're stupid but your not that stupid..People from China dont write the same way as me you idiot. lmao god you are thick.

      March 21, 2011 at 5:13 am | Reply
  15. Tomtom

    actually they write like you...broken english ..but unlike Chinese, you are dumb as hell. and very gullible. lol second class Fobby trash is what you are, and dont you forget it. Now, Ive had enough of a laugh from a refugee like until you improve your english I wont respond again...comprende?

    March 21, 2011 at 5:15 am | Reply
  16. Choman

    Funny, if my English is as bad as you say, how could understand what I am saying? And how come if your English is so good you can't seem to come up with any good arguments? Heck, a "good" argument is probably beyond your reach, but I'll settle for a "normal" argument, but you can't even reach that basic level.

    Won't respond? Oh really now, this TIME you won't respond? Really, you said in MANY previous posts you won't respond and will "ignore me". Yeah that won't happen. Your self-control is too weak for that. Why do I have the feeling you will respond again? HAHA. Go ahead, try not to respond, see if you can...

    March 21, 2011 at 6:03 am | Reply
  17. Tomtom

    I can understand your english barely..And I can structure arguments easily. You just cant believe that anyone outside of people from China, believe in China so much. You are jealous of China's success because your stupid country isnt doing as well. Well boo fukin hoo. China will become a superpower whether you like it or not, and people like you better learn to accept it or you will perish. If I met you in person I would spit in your are a disgrace to your parents and you dishonor the english language by speaking at all.

    March 21, 2011 at 6:33 am | Reply
  18. Tomtom

    and I choose not to make any arguments to you specifically because you are a piece of shit . is that clear enough for you refugee troll?

    March 21, 2011 at 6:41 am | Reply
  19. Choman

    Look, I'll put this into plain and simple language for you to understand, since you clearly aren't able to grasp complex sentences: China cannot become a superpower because it's SOFT power is TOO WEAK. There is nothing attractive about the Chinese political government beyond the business opportunities. But in terms of the country, very little of it is attractive. Just look at your comments. It's such a joke.

    Yeah i can believe people outside China believing in China, just not you. Your immature comments make me believe you are likely a nutjob nationalist. And a troll? Why would you respond to a troll? I am goading you on am I? Well if I really were a troll, you would have fallen way into the trap, haha.

    And you have something against immigrants. You know, countries that shut off immigration or refugees tend to be weak, racist and authoritarian, no "great country reject immigrants, tomtom. There's an education for you.

    March 21, 2011 at 7:17 am | Reply
    • Tomtom

      hahaha your argument is pathetic and you are pathetic. I have something against you...not against immigrants. And the fact that you still believe that I am a nationalist of China shows that you are not only stupid but delusional.
      China is the second largest country in the world. What it has done in the past 30 years (which is industrialize) took USA 200 years to do. Im not saying CHina is perfect. Yes it lacks freedoms, but it has changed a lot since the 70's. China is the largest creditor nation in the world...USA is the largest debtor nation in the HISTORY of the world. China owns over 1 trillion in USA debt..which means it holds considerable leverage. USA has over 50 trillion in debt (including social security reponsibilities, etc). USA is fighting 2 losing wars. USA is finished..most people with half a brain can see this. Even Time magazine came out with an article this month labelled America is in Decline.
      China military is the largest in the world. And they have invented and deployed (as I have mentioned in previous posts) an anticarrier missile that can destroy an aircraft carrier from 900 miles away with one shot. That is power.
      China was leader of the world for over 2000 your history, this is fact. China is rising again. period. now stfu

      March 21, 2011 at 7:28 am | Reply
    • Tomtom

      Look you will do no such thing. The best thing is for you to shut the hell up because your english is unbearably bad.

      March 21, 2011 at 7:40 am | Reply
  20. Tomtom

    answer me this refugee troll: which country were you born in and where do you reside..stop hiding and come clean. If you are proud of your heritage than tell me what it is

    March 21, 2011 at 7:37 am | Reply
  21. TanneryWealth

    I keep seeing all these gloomy blog predictions about the decline and fall of the U.S. economy and the ascendency of China. Yet I don’t see anyone proposing realistic options to staunch the bleeding of our American economy. At my blog, Hijack Your Future, I’m running a five-week series on how we could all work to keep America strong and I invite your feedback as we shift our focus from problem to solutions. The game ain’t over yet!

    March 21, 2011 at 11:54 am | Reply
    • Tomtom

      You keep seeing these gloomy predictions because they are true TanneryWealth. Unfortunately USA doesnt really manufacture anything just consumes. China has been the manufacturing country of the world for quite some time now, creating things that everyone uses in their daily life. Now they are shifting to high tech manufacturing similar to what Japan did before.
      China now has the fastest Supercomputer in the world. They also have the largest automarket in the world. China also is the #1 manufacturer in the world, overtaking Germany last year. In China, people save over 60% of their the usa, people dont save much at all. China is fast catching up to the USA, and it is only a matter of time before they surpass them. These are just the facts of life. Whether you like it or not, China will be the lone Superpower of the world in 10 years or so. My advice for you and everyone on this blog is to learn Mandarin Chinese, because it is going to be the most important language this century. America and the west had 200 years of dominance, however that is coming to an end, and in reality you are just a footnote in history. Did you know that part of the reason the British had the industrial revolution was because they adapted Chinese technology..yes this is fact. It is with Chinese technology that they were able to have the agricultural revolution. Without the agricultural revolution there would never had been the industrial revolution. So part of the western modern world we have today is based on chinese technology. China has been in decline for 500 years or so. But now its on the rise, and unfortunately, the USA and the west in general are starting to decline. This decline could be for hundreds of years, heck maybe forever, who knows.

      March 21, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Reply
  22. Choman

    Hahaha, what if I say I'm from-gasp-China! That would "explain" my "bad" English! You have "something" against me? Ooooo...I'm so "scared". Can't even tell where I am from? Haha. First you said I am a Japanese. Then a Indian. What's next, I'm an alien from outer space? Hahaha. Judging by your lack of intelligence and knowledge, I think you will serious believe that.

    Now, if China is so strong why don't it retake Taiwa now? What is it scared of? The mighty USA that's why. Sure, those anti-carrier missiles can take care of the US carriers, if that is the case, why tolerate an independent Taiwan? China can simply march in and takeover Taiwan. It's because the US still has military SUPERIORTY over China, that's why.

    If the Chinese economy is so mighty, why is China still relying on the US markets for exports? Why not dump the US treasury bond? Why not?

    I'll tell you, because China is still RELIANT on the US market and can't live without it. Some "mighty" country.

    March 22, 2011 at 3:25 am | Reply
  23. Tomtom

    China doesnt take taiwan now because its policy is for a eventual peaceful reunion you dimwit..if you were from China, you would know that. you do realize that the USA spends 663 billion dollars on its military per a year, while china only spends 98 billion...and yet China already has the technology to change the military balance in Asia..that tells you something
    Let me ask you this Choman, if the USA is so militarily superior, why with its massive spending (663 billion per a year) can it not win a war in Afghanistan or Iraq? Why did it not win in Korea, or Vietnam? Its military isnt that mighty after all.
    Did you know that during the Korean War, China was able to fight and beat back the USA and Nato even though its military was not as technologically ended as a stalemate, which pretty much was a loss for USA. lol

    Let me ask you this Choman, if the USA is so mighty, why does it have to rely on China to loan it money in order to fight wars? Why cant it just make it on its own? Why does the USA have a deficit of about 50 trillion? Why does it rely on China as one of its most important export markets? China is shifting to a domestic economy and is decoupling from the USA.
    WHy dont you do some reading instead of talking stupid trash on the internet. It really makes you look stupid and uneducated you no nothing twit. I expect some answers to the above questions if you think you are so smart.

    March 22, 2011 at 5:49 am | Reply
  24. Tomtom

    the USA is more reliant on China then China is on the USA. My guess is that you didnt even complete grade 8 lmao, you dumb fuc*

    March 22, 2011 at 5:52 am | Reply
  25. Choman

    Ohhhh, dumb f*** hey? You are the one in Grade 8 buddy, not me. What makes you think the US is more reliant? If US was to shut it's markets to Chinese goods tomorrow, you think China can still grow economically? The reality is that the Chinese government will fall when the economy can no longer deliver the goods to the people. China has a very shallow and aritificial stability.

    Peaceful reunification? What a load of crap. The only reason China has a "peaceful reunification" is because they know they CANNOT take Taiwan by force. China is DETERRED by the US. Don't forget China was given a bloody nose by Vietnam in 1979 when it sought to teach Vietnam a lesson, but it ended with Vietnam teaching the PLA a "lesson" in return!

    March 22, 2011 at 6:35 am | Reply
  26. Tomtom

    I dont agree with your weak arguments Choman..nice try lol..dummy

    March 22, 2011 at 7:44 am | Reply
  27. Choman

    Lol, well the one think we can agree on is to disagree.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:34 am | Reply
  28. Choman

    Lol, well the only thing I think we can agree on is to disagree.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:34 am | Reply
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