China: (not) talking about a revolution

Written by Mark Beeson. Fifty years ago on May 16 the Cultural Revolution began. Don’t expect this event to be given much attention in China itself, though. The reality is that despite Mao Zedong’s continuing iconic status, his successors in China’s ruling elite don’t know quite how to deal with his legacy. It’s not hard …

Soft Power on the Defensive: The Contradictions of Chinese Foreign Policy

Written by James F. Paradise. China’s soft power offensive has not been fully effective. One reason is that many outsiders find it difficult to buy into Chinese values because of political repression, cultural chauvinism and bad pollution in China. Another reason is that some activities in the military and economic spheres are starting to give …

Confusing Public Diplomacy and Soft Power

Written by Barry Buzan. There is little doubt that in relation to its size, wealth, and culture, China underperforms in the area of soft power, is conscious of that weakness, and wants to improve its performance (Li, 2008). Soft power is about the non-coercive ability to change the preferences of others, to make them want …

China, Soft Power, and the Politics of Attraction

Written by Todd H. Hall. Possibly no concept to emerge from the field of international relations in the past several decades has been quite as influential within policymaking circles as that of “soft power.” And the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has been no exception to this trend. No less than the General Secretary of the Communist Party …

The true nature of Xi Jinping’s power

Written by Kerry Brown. The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein was fond of using a simple drawing of what he called a `duck-rabbit’. From one angle, it looked like a rabbit’s head. But when an observer looked at it a little longer the ears came to resemble beaks, and the whole picture looked like a duck facing …

China’s one-child policy helped women make a great leap forward – so what now?

Written by Ye Liu. The Chinese Community Party’s decision to end its infamous one-child policy has significance beyond its impact on the country’s demographics. What was missing from all the discussion and reflection on the policy’s impact on the size of China’s labour force and on families’ human rights was the positive consequences of the …

Masculinities and Talking Politics in China

Written by Lake Lui. 2014 was a fateful year for Hong Kong people—like me—who do research in China. The vibrant discussion of Hong Kong’s political reform, the Occupy Central Movement, and the increasing conflicts between Hongkongers and Mainland Chinese people were heard of in every corner of China, although the news is often misrepresented. Despite the …

Why scrapping the one-child policy will do little to change China’s population

Written by Stuart Gietel-Basten. China is scrapping its one-child policy and officially allowing all couples to have two children. While some may think this heralds an overnight switch, the reality is that it is far less dramatic. This is, in fact, merely the latest in an array of piecemeal national and local reforms implemented since …

Gender inequalities at work in urban China

Written by Jieyu Liu. The Chinese Communist Party firmly believed that the way to achieve national women’s emancipation was to ensure women did full-time paid work outside of the home. Since 1949, the mobilisation of women into paid work has been among the top gender campaigns. The political actions genuinely improved women’s status and quality of …

The Italian Left and the question of Italy-PRC relations in the 1950’-early 1960s

Written by Guido Samarani. In the 1950s and early 1960s the Italian Communist Party (ICP) was one of the main actors (together with the Italian Socialist Party, ISP) involved in what we can call as an ‘informal diplomacy’ between Italy and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). In the absence of diplomatic relations between the …