1 Department of Design og Kommunikation, Faculty of Humanities, SDU2 Department of Design og Kommunikation, Faculty of Humanities, SDU
In recent years soft power has become a key issue at the highest political level in China, focusing especially on cultural soft power. This is reflected in important political documents, such as five year plans, plenum meeting summaries, as well as speeches by Hu Jintao and other politicians at the highest level. This interest in soft power is generally seen as part of an important foreign policy shift, and the huge amounts of money spent by the government on cultural diplomacy testify to the importance attached to it. Understanding what might be the goal of China’s soft power strategy is however difficult. The question can be analysed from various perspectives focusing on the use of power, the peaceful development discourse, or national image cultivation, and finding a straight forward answer is therefore difficult. If we go deeper and see the soft power discourse in the context of the worries China faces with its own national culture, we might however come closer to an understanding of this question. This study therefore offers an analysis of major political documents, such as the Report on soft power to the 17th Party Conference, the 11th and 12th 5-Year Guidelines, and Hu Jintao’s essay in Qiu Shi to find out how the concepts of soft power and national image together are being built into a discourse of strengthening China’s cultural identity. Various interpretations on how China’s soft power strategy is connected to her self-image may follow from this analysis, the question however remains whether it is really a softer identity, rather than soft power in the usual sense China is looking for? And is this image actually directed towards a foreign audience, or is it to some extent China’s own population this softer identity is directed at?