Talk about bearish on China: Before most people realized that China even had any “soft power” to exercise, Johan Lagerkvist at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs is talking about its collapse.
While Lagerkvist doesn’t seem to really get into how much soft power China had built up before its ostensible collapse, he does note what he views to be the reasons behind the fall, which I think can be summed up as the unappealing qualities of the following:
1) China’s recent aggressive regional foreign policy
2) China as a place to immigrate
3) China’s authoritarian regime
4) The revival of propaganda over objective information dissemination
5) Over zealous responses to perceived threats to internal stability
While I agree that the reasons he cites can’t be good for China’s international image, I’m not sure that they’ve really impacted China’s international status. All of the above has long been seen as part and parcel of China’s international reputation. I don’t see as much of a change as Lagerkvist does. And, in the end, China has been achieving its international goals through good old fashioned realpolitik, what the want has been bought and paid for.