Spoke on BRI and China as a Global Actor at Senioruniversitetet Uppsala’s seminar serie on the Silk Roads and Japan – linkages between the East and the West [Sidenvägarna och Japan – länkar mellan öst och väst].
In my new article in Asian Perspective Capturing Power Shift in East Asia: Toward an Analytical Framework for Understanding “Soft Power” in Asian Perspective proposes an analytical framework for analyzing soft power that problematizes the rigid soft power/hard power binary. The framework proposes a way to understand soft power and the hard-soft spectrum of behavior that allows for the inclusion of economic power while still drawing a line between hard and soft power, where not all economic power is soft, but nor is it all hard. Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1353/apr.2020.0016
[CLICK TO ENLARGE]
Mainstream International Relations (IR) theory has problems fully accounting for the regional dynamics of East Asia. This article explores whether the pursuit of soft power—a concept that has been given a prominent position in research on East Asian IR—can provide one piece of the puzzle for understanding East Asia’s regional dynamics. This article proposes an analytical framework for analyzing soft power that problematizes the rigid soft power/hard power binary. The framework proposes a way to understand soft power and the hard-soft spectrum of behavior that allows for the inclusion of economic power while still drawing a line between hard and soft power, where not all economic power is soft, but nor is it all hard. It is argued that to keep the concept of soft power relevant in the East Asian context economic power needs to be included. The line is drawn between economic coercion and economic inducement, arguing that when induced there is still a certain level of freedom as one can choose whether the payments or bribes offered are good enough for it to be worthwhile to change one’s preference and behavior. Coercion, in contrast, utilizes a different dynamic where the point is to force someone to do something they are unwilling to do.
Just published: Special Issue in Asian Perspective on Power, Narratives, and the Role of Third Parties: Understanding Power (Shift) in East Asia with Mikael Weissmann and Mingjiang Li as guest editors.
Find the articles on https://muse.jhu.edu/issue/40440/print .
Introduction to the Special Issue [SUBMITTED COPY]
Mikael Weissmann, Mingjiang Li
Understanding Power (Shift) in East Asia: The Sino-US Narrative Battle about Leadership in the South China Sea [OPEN ACCESS]
DOI: 10.1353/apr.2019.0009 (Open Access)
China’s “Belt and Road” in Southeast Asia: Constructing the Strategic Narrative in Singapore
Alice D. Ba
China’s Economic Power in Asia: The Belt and Road Initiative and the Local Guangxi Government’s Role
Return to Geopolitics: The Changes in Japanese Strategic Narratives
The Relationship between Narratives and Security Practices: Pushing the Boundaries of Military Instruments in Japan
Petter Y. Lindgren, Wrenn Yennie Lindgren
Contending Narratives of the International Order: US/Chinese Discursive Power and Its Effects on the UK
This week I have been making a research visit to Beijing, China to have meeting with a number of Chinese experts at different universities and institutes to learn more about the Belt and Road Initiative and China’s foreign policy in the region and the world.
This week I will be conducting a visit to Singapore to work on a Special Issue on “Power, Narratives, and the role of third parties: Understanding Power (Shift) in East Asia” for Asian Perspective with my RSIS co-guest editor Dr Li Mingjiang. This issue is part of Prof. Linus Hagström and my Power Shift in East Asia project funded by the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation.
I will also be visiting, among others, the East Asia Institute at National University of Singapore and the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS).
Presentation for FMV veteranklubb on “Kinas roll i varlden under Xi’s ledarskap?” [China’s role in the world under Xi’s leadership] exploring the development of China’s security police with particular focus on the Belt and road Initiative (BRI).
Now the official site of the Stockholm Belt and Road Observatory has been launched: https://www.ui.se/english/research/asia/SBRO
The Stockholm Belt and Road Observatory is an independent research network dedicated to questions arising in relation to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and China’s growing global footprint.
Gathering expertise from several leading Swedish institutions, the observatory serves as a platform for collaboration and knowledge sharing for actors in academia, government, civil society and the business sector.
The observatory was officially launched at a seminar on 4 June, 2018. The event included discussions about how the BRI is impacting Sweden and Europe, how the BRI relates to Chinese global leadership, and how to handle challenges emerging from the BRI.
Today we held a seminar titled “Making Sense of China’s Belt and Road Initiative – What’s at Stake for Sweden and Europe?” marking the establishment of the Stockholm Belt and Road Observatory, a research network created to tackle questions arising in relation to BRI and China’s growing global footprint for which I am the head coordinator.
You can listen to the full seminar here:
FULL TEXT HERE
Over the last year, scholars, pundits, and policymakers interested in China have rhetorically asked whether US President Donald Trump will make President Xi Jinping’s China “great again.” There is now mounting evidence that the answer to that question is “yes.” Since his inauguration, there are a number of ways in which Trump has contributed to China’s rise, and Xi Jinping’s tightening grip on power.
To begin with as we, and others have suggested elsewhere, Trump is making China great again by withdrawing from global responsibilities so that space is left for Xi’s China to step into. Trump’s ‘America First’ policy has involved announcements of withdrawal from international responsibilities and agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), UNESCO, the Paris Agreement on climate change, and UN talks on migration. He has threatened to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal, a free-trade agreement with South Korea, and NAFTA.
At the same time, Xi’s China has pursued the opposite policy, investing in exactly the kinds of overseas initiatives that built America’s global influence, including foreign aid and investment, overseas security, and education. The ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ – China’s massive connectivity project and Xi’s flagship foreign policy – has fortuitously emerged in this newly opened space.
“Will Trump make China great again? The belt and road initiative and international order” – new article in Chatham House’s International Affairs with Astrid H. M. Nordin) – full text on https://doi.org/10.1093/ia/iix242
On December 7-8, 2017 I am organising a conference on “The power of narratives in East Asian International Relations” together with Prof. Linus Hagström and Assoc. Prof. Karl Gustafsson. This is part of the Power Shift in East Asia project funded by the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation.
During the two days, leading researchers from around the world gather to focus on a variety of themes such as for example Okinawa-Taiwan narratives and counter-narratives, the Senkaku/Diaoyutai Islands dispute through narratives, regional narratives and expectations on China as a leading power in Southeast Asia, memes, narratives, and an emergent US-China security dilemma and more. The forum gathers international guests and prominent researchers such as Alice Ba, Alastair Iain Johnston, Peter Gries, LHM Ling, Mari Nakamura, Kosuke Shimizu, Hidekazu Sakai and others.
New paper on Sweden and the Belt and Road Initiative just out: Sweden’s approach to China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Still a glass half-empty (UI Paper, No.1 2017 with Elin Rappe).
In 2013 China’s President Xi Jinping launched the “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) initiative, later renamed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which involves China undertaking to make infrastructure investments worth billions of US dollars in the countries along the old Silk Road connecting China with Europe. While commonly seen as an infrastructure initiative aimed at strengthening the Chinese economy, it is also a political project with far-reaching strategic aims.
This UI Brief outlines how China has approached the BRI with Sweden, how Sweden has responded and the perceptions of major Swedish stakeholders. It finds that Swedish officials are often highly cautious, maintaining a wait-and see policy. While also cautious, members of the business community are cautiously optimistic and have been more actively following BRIrelated developments, seeking out avenues for potential business. The actual impact of BRI in Sweden, however, is so far very limited.
The Brief concludes that Sweden’s approach to BRI has been too reactive and too passive. It argues that both the government and the business community need to engage more actively with the BRI in order to maximize its possible benefits. To this end, a national strategy is needed that includes the government and the business sector. Better coordination is also needed between government agencies and to link existing intra-governmental cooperation with the business community. Their importance cannot be overemphasized as the BRI is a political project, not an idealistic free-market endeavour.
March 31 – April 4 I participated in the “Fifth Global International Studies Conference” in Taipei, Taiwan. More information: https://www.wiscnetwork.net/past-conferences/5th-conference-2017
Ms. Sophie Chao has joined the project on “Beijing-Washington Power Shift in the South China Sea” for three month as a Vincent Siew Fellow. After her stay in Sweden Ms. Chao will pursue her M.A. at Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in fall 2017.
For more information see: https://www.ui.se/english/about/staff/sophie-chao/
Ms. Wrenn Yennie Lindgren (web) has joined our Power Shift in East Asia program. Yennie Lindgren specializes in international relations of the Asia Pacific and Japanese foreign and security policy. Besides being a PhD candidate at our program, she is also a Research Fellow at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) and a Visiting Fellow at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs (SIIA).