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Soft Power Competition

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Soft Power and East Asian Integration:
A Unifying or Dis-unifying Force?
Kitti Prasirtsuk
Thammasat University
Topics
1. What is “soft power”?
2. Comparing Soft Power of China, Japan, and
Korea
3. Soft Power as Unifying Force in East Asia
4. Soft Power as Dis-unifying Force in East Asia
Conclusion
1. What is soft power?
• Not hard power (military, coercive nature)
• persuasive power, ability to shape preferences;
attraction, admiration, reputation
• E.H. Carr (1939): Power over opinion
• Joseph Nye (2004):
1) culture
2) values
3) diplomacy
overlapped, e.g. cultural diplomacy
• Resources / tools (not always necessarily turned to
effect)
• Soft power is a type of power, so has realist
connotation – competition
2. Comparison: China, Japan, Korea
Country
China
Japan
Korea
Culture
Values/Ideas/
Concepts
Diplomacy
China’s soft power: Culture
• Ethnic Chinese as cultural agents пѓ more in
every day life
• Chinese new year, Chinese medicine,
Fangshui, Taichi etc.
• Confucian Institute (CI): 13 CIs in Thailand
• Learning Chinese language
China’s Pop Culture
• China is not inclined to promote liberal pop
culture.
• Movies filled w political agenda, esp. period
movies, e.g. Confucius, The Founding of the
Republic пѓ not much popular
* China: strong on traditional culture but weak
on contemporary pop culture
China’s Values/Ideas/Concepts
•
•
•
•
“harmonious world”
“Peaceful Rise”
“Beijing Consensus”
“factory of the world”: from low-tech to hitech products (including high-speed train)
China’s Diplomacy
• “peaceful rise”
• “good neighbor policy”
• Economic assistance
Limitations:
- support/indifferent to authoritarian regimes
- recently, more assertive China
- inconsistent, preoccupied w/ domestic
development
- needs to be more responsive to people
Japan’s Culture
• Strong on both traditional and pop culture
“comprehensive”
- tea ceremony , flower arrangement, Zen
Buddhism/philosophy, judo, etc.
- Manga, anime, games, karaoke, fashion,
celebrities, food, green tea, “kawaii”
(cuteness), etc.
* “liberal pop culture” e.g. otaku, gay cartoon
Japan’s Values/Ideas/Concepts
• innovative and resilient
- 1980s “Developmental State”, J management
(kaizen, JIT, TQC, 5S), lean production
- 2000s: human security: ODA-GGP;
Environment: “Cool Earth 50”, “Cool Biz”
Japan’s Diplomacy
• Japan’s cultural diplomacy since the “heart-toheart” Fukuda Doctrine
• Japan Foundation, Nippon-maru, exchange
programs
• ODA, FDI, PKO
• Non-traditional security (e.g. anti-piracy in
Malacca Strait)
Korea’s Culture
• Strong on pop culture, but increasingly adding
traditional elements through TV series
• Korean Wave: drama, movies, music, fashion,
cosmetics, tourism
пѓ business profits + really boosting Korea’s
reputation
Korea’s Values/Ideas/Concepts
• ??
• Only recent efforts
- ODA (on Aid Effectiveness)
- an alternative development model: successful
modernization + democratization (Seoul
Consensus?)
- Anti-corruption
- Green Growth (through GGGI)
- Yeosu Expo 2012: marine environment
Korea’s Soft Power
• Late comer
• “from business interests to international
contribution and high-profile roles”
- Preoccupied w post-crisis recovery пѓ pop
culture exports (also for tourism) “Korean Wave”
- But now taking off quite strongly
Korea’s Diplomacy
• Key positions in IOs (e.g. WHO, UN)
• Development experience: successful modernization
and democratization
• Korea as “middle power”
• Joined OECD-DAC in 2009
• G20 (host and Presidential Committee)
• Nuclear Security Summit
Summary
• Tendency to overestimate China’s soft power
and underestimate Japan’s soft power.
• Japan has an upper hand in terms of
resources, but still needs to enhance.
• Korea is now up and coming.
3. Soft Power as Unifying Force in East Asia
Opportunity for East Asian Integration
• Asian middle class culture: common lifestyles,
esp. the youngsters
• Competition for increasing cooperation with
ASEAN
• Competition for public good
4. Soft Power as Dis-unifying Force in East Asia
Challenge for East Asian Integration
• Soft power that promotes “nationalism”
• Reality doesn’t always meet expectation.
• Soft power tends to be overrode by hard
conflicts, esp. territorial disputes.
• Tendency to increasingly use smart power:
hard + soft power
Conclusion
• Three countries with strong soft power
• Competition for good alternatives
• Needs 2-way exchanges (from ASEAN to CJK as
well)
• Needs increasing cooperation among CJK (esp.
on diplomacy).
• From ASEAN+1 to East Asia
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