Since the turn of the century, much of the international focus on China’s rapid rise in economic, political, and strategic power has been centered on the concept of hard power development, meaning the power of coercion via potential force or reward. However, the role of soft power (ruan shili) in Beijing’s expanded global interests has also received a great deal of attention, generating considerable debate. Indeed, the idea of soft power has become increasingly intertwined with the desire of the Chinese government under then incoming president Hu Jintao to promote “peaceful rise” (and shortly thereafter, the modified and more politically palatable concept of “peaceful development”) on the international level. As the country under Hu began to expand its interests further outside of the Asia-Pacific region, the government sought to dispel concerns that China was seeking to challenge the status quo as so many other developing great powers, including the United States, had done in the past. Instead, China proposed a “rise,” which respected the post-Cold War international system and stressed cooperation over conflict.
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