“Soft Power: the Art of Persuasion”

The Yellow Emperor will show You the Way

Tomorrow, there will be even more Confucius Institutes

It sounds a bit like a cheap bestselling handbook for very poor diplomats:

This political manipulation is referred to as soft power – achieving what you want by attracting and persuading others to adopt your customs – thriving on control, not force.

Philip Dodd, creative director of China Now, a six month festival devoted to contemporary China taking place in Britain in 2008 and a man of other (similar) functions, wrote a documentary for the BBC and investigates how this cultural rivalry [for soft power] is being formed and what weapons of persuasion are being deployed, from global sporting fixtures to cultural events and educational projects.

The pivotal point of Dodds’s two-part documentary is, of course, America. In the first part of his documentary about soft power, he looked at China, the scope and the limitations of its efforts to project “soft power” (the limitations being that government-controlled cultural power would never be as powerful as a decentralized version of it – which will lead him on to India in the second part.

Not too many surprises in the documentary, in my books, apart from a surprisingly halfhearted Romano Prodi (former EU chief commissioner and former Italian prime minister) whose nightmare is an economically successful, non-democratic model. But then, considering the rotten state of a country that voted Silvio Berlusconi‘s “Forza Italia” (or “People of Freedom”, or whatever name this political zombie may take in the future) to power twice so far, one might understand Prodi’s depressive mood.

For the time being, the program can be downloaded as a podcast here.

Meantime, Taiwan is doing some work to project its bit of soft power. A journalist from Hamburg with the regional Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) is scheduled to live in Taipei with a grant from the country’s government for a three months’ language course, until the end of August.  Most of his blog is written in German, but the latest post is in English.

Correction/Update
please see the first comments

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Related
China-funded: Three Eight Hundreds, April 19, 2009

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3 Comments to ““Soft Power: the Art of Persuasion””

  1. > A journalist from Hamburg with the regional Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) is scheduled to live in Taipei with a grant from the country’s government for a three months’ language course, until the end of August.

    Now that would be me. Sorry to say, those three months were over two years ago, and Taiwan’s new government did not continue this kind of scholarship (should make that more clear on my blog).
    I am still in Taiwan, however, reporting freelance for German media: http://www.taiwanreporter.com

    Like

  2. Thanks for putting this right. Sad to hear that the program hasn’t been continued. It could make a lot more sense than the traditional “dollar-diplomacy”….
    Oh, they aparently terminated that, too. When will president Ma abolish the foreign office?

    Like

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