As the U.S. and China square off and move toward a new and decidedly more confrontational relationship, public diplomacy and the "soft power" of cultural influence have gotten a makeover. The stereotypical Chinese foreign affairs official — faceless, formal and utterly predictable — is being replaced by the "wolf-warrior diplomat" — colorful, idiosyncratic and aggressively controversial. U.S. and Chinese diplomats are now likely to confront each other both in the corridors of power and on news shows and Twitter. Similarly, China's soft power influence in the global cultural economy has largely been constrained by its stiff and boring propaganda. As the large Chinese cultural consumer market has gradually opened up, however, China’s entertainment industry has found Hollywood, professional sport associations and foreign media companies to be enthusiastic potential partners. Hollywood is no longer exclusively American.
We must wonder: In addition to becoming an economic superpower and a rising military superpower, will China become a soft power superpower? Relatedly, how successful have America and China been in recent years at presenting themselves to the world? What does the rest of the world think of these two superpowers? At this event, Steven Lewis, the C.V. Starr Transnational China Fellow, and Aynne Kokas, a nonresident scholar with the Baker Institute’s China Studies Program and an associate professor of media studies at the University of Virginia, examined the current state of diplomacy and soft power in the United States and China.
This event, sponsored by the Baker Institute China Studies Program, was part of the Baker Institute 2020 Election Series, which highlighted critical policy issues ahead of the 2020 presidential election. This webinar series featured institute fellows, scholars and guests discussing a range of critical domestic and foreign policy issues in the lead up to November 3.
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3:00 p.m. — Presentation
3:30 p.m. — Q&A
Aynne Kokas, Ph.D.
Nonresident Scholar, China Studies Program, Baker Institute; Associate Professor of Media Studies, University of Virginia
Steven Lewis, Ph.D.
C.V. Starr Transnational China Fellow, Baker Institute