Dr. Tony C. Lee presented research on power structures in China’s foreign cultural policy.
News from May 10, 2016
During a Brown bag lunch lecture Tony Lee, visiting scholar at the Center for Global Politics, presented his research on the impact of cultural institutes abroad and their usage in soft power politics. Under the title: “Fatal attraction? Does China’s soft power pose a threat to the world?” he focused on the often controversially discussed Confucius Institute, which he later compared to its German and French counterparts.
Tony Lee started his presentation giving a broad overview on research and discourses in the area of power research, pointing out that those divergent definitions of power are making a common consensus on this topic difficult. While many different forms of power exist in IR research, the two most commonly discussed ones are hard power and soft power. As the title of this talk already amplifies, attraction is one form of soft power, which instead of its counterpart doesn’t use military forces or coercion, but the ownership of civil society to achieve long-term influence.
In the past, the Confucius Institute that has several branches all over the world has often been criticized for avoiding debate on the Three Ts: Tiananmen, Tibet and Taiwan. Although the Confucius Institute, in its various shapes, offers Chinese language and culture classes to foreigners, and therefore presents a great benefit to universities in providing opportunities for their students, it has also openly been called a mechanism of Chinese propaganda abroad, what has previously led to closures of CIs.
In his research, Tony Lee is then looking at how the Confucius Institute compared to other cultural institutes such as Goethe Institute in Germany or the Alliance Française in France operates abroad and if it is helping to improve China’s image.