From Foreign Policy Research Institute website:
… There are many definitions of soft power, but basically, when the Chinese government talks about its new soft power in the world, it means all power outside of the military sphere, including diplomacy, aid, investment, and economic tools.
One reason for this new relationship with the world is that China has experienced great domestic changes within the past fifteen years. By the 1990s, you saw the growth of a more confident, patriotic, even nationalistic public in China, that, seeing how China had grown significantly, began to talk about China’s playing a larger role in the world, a subject that was verboten fifteen years ago . The Chinese leadership also has become much more engaged with the world, with their own think tanks and universities to draw on to develop a more sophisticated foreign policy. These leaders have a more sophisticated view of the world, travel more, and are able to play a larger, more confident global role. [Full Text]
Joshua Kurlantzick is special correspondent for the New Republic and a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.