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« Why the Seahawks Lost | Main | Thoughts on Yu Ying-shih's brief reflection on "Confucianism's Kiss of Death" »

June 08, 2015

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Many foreign students at my school in Hangzhou are here as a result of soft power ploys - scholarships on top of already very low tuition. But once in China, foreign students from Africa and central Asia become quite aware of the hypocrisy of the soft power mantra. Soft power looks best from a distance, and where dissenting voices are few. I doubt that significant effects in the US are expected. Better results are expected in the high schools and colleges in Africa and central Asia and other parts of the world where authoritarian regimes are the norm, academic standards are closer to those of many Chinese schools (very low), and no one looks too closely at threats to academic freedom or moral hazard when money or free services can be had. But Chinese actions and behavior on projects in Africa and central Asia often destroy whatever soft power gains are made in high schools. Not much trust of Chinese anywhere. Not winning many hearts and minds.

Some schools in Germany and France and Spain are still looking to send students to China, but mostly for semester or year study abroad programs. These students enjoy their time in China, but they don't see much value beyond an enjoyable time in China. (Although the students from Spain see China as an attractive place to work while Europe sorts itself out).

One recent author (uselesstree.typepad.com/files/confucianism-as-soft-power.doc) suggested that American soft power might be beyond the control of America. I think that is true for China, also.

Thanks for the comment. Interesting to hear about your school.

BTW, some time ago I closed comments after a week because of horrible spam infestation. I'm going to keep comments open for a month now with sign in and moderation to see if things are better.

So, please comment, if you're so inclined.

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