Strategic influence of soft power: inferences for India from Chinese engagement of South and Southeast Asia

Abstract: This study proceeds on the assumption that both India and China are keen on maintaining peace and stability in their respective neighbourhoods. A benign external environment is a critical driver of their respective economic growths, and consequently regional and global strategic influences. Soft power plays a key role in this regard and is increasingly being deployed as a strategic tool by major powers of the world, including China and India.

The paper researches China‘s projections of soft power and employment of attendant tools in South and Southeast Asia. and tries to draw relevant inferences for India‘s soft power applications in South Asia. Quantitative and qualitative dimensions of Chinese soft power in the region are analyzed with respect to public diplomacy as well as economic assistance.

The paper is divided into a few broad sections for analytical convenience. It begins by defining the concept of soft. For purposes of the present study it restricts itself to the following salient components of soft power: cultural diplomacy, public diplomacy and economic aid (essentially development assistance). China‘s soft power initiatives in Southeast Asia and South Asia are then analyzed, followed by India‘s initiatives in South Asia. The core objective is to draw lessons from China‘s practice of soft power policies and study their applicability to India‘s foreign policy.

Post description

  • Publication year: 2011
  • Content type: Policy brief
  • Form of cooperation: Comprehensive (lines of credit, grants and loans, and technical assistance).
  • Cooperation context: Multilateral
  • Region (country): South Asia and Southeast Asia
  • Sector: Multisectoral
  • Institution (publication): Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER)
  • Author (and co-authors): Parama Sinha Palit and Amitendu Palit
  • Keywords: South-South cooperation; soft power; China; India; South Asia;  Southeast Asia
  • Link: ICRIER site