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. The repeated mention of soft power has also been accompanied by a wide range of efforts to strengthen China’s image abroad. These efforts include hosting major events, such as the Olympic Games and World Expo, establishing a worldwide network of Confucius Institutes, as well as organizing more local level activities, such as establishing friendship town relations and organizing local cultural events abroad. This research paper analyses China’s efforts to improve its soft power image as an act of nation branding. First, it looks into the discourse on soft power in political documents including speeches in order to find out what kind of national image towards the outside world the government wishes to convey. Furthermore, examples of events and activities organized by Chinese government institutions, which are targeted at a foreign audience, will be analyzed in order to find out what kind of image of China is being conveyed, and how this image matches the soft power discourse in the political documents.
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XIXth European Association for China Studies Conference, 2012