JOURNAL OF DEFENCE STUDIES

From Smart Power to Sharp Power: How China Promotes her National Interests

Major General Mandip Singh was formerly a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here for details profile.
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  • July-September 2018
    Volume: 
    12
    Issue: 
    3
    Focus

    Authoritarian regimes are increasingly taking recourse to sharp power as a preferred means of realising national interests. Sharp power weaves an intricate web of responses short of war, such as coercion, persuasion, political power, and inducements to further a nation’s interests, all the while concealing a long stick. China, in particular, has perfected the art of using sharp power in recent years, often investing large political capital and monies to impose its will on nations all over the globe. Various organs of its government—the United Work Front, Ministries of Public Security, State Security and Foreign Affairs—actively pursue a ‘sharp’ agenda through media, culture, academia, tourists, and the diaspora abroad, to lend patronage to tools of sharp power statecraft. This article interrogates the concept of sharp power, how it differs from soft and smart power, and details the gradual and systemic penetration of Chinese influence in this regard.

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