China's economic muscle and footprints have been on the rise in the world. So has China's outreach of its foreign policy. But proportionately, China's soft power has been on the decline. Despite being a 'rising' power, there has been a visible global pushback and backlash to both China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as well as its "go-out" foreign policy. Several Chinese-backed projects, part of China's ambitious BRI are mired in controversy —accusations of China's neo-colonialism, political entrapment of the recipient countries due to unsustainable debt, low quality and benefits that accrue more to China have dented China's power-play in the world. In particular, China's "wolf warrior" diplomacy — an aggressive diplomacy where Chinese diplomats have veered back from diplomacy to take a pro-Communist Party line has received a setback. In several high-profile incidents, Chinese diplomats took a political stand, bickered and went on the offensive that resulted in a greater backlash, and did nothing to China's credibility and stature.China has been called a 'lonely power", a superpower that has not actualised or may not actualise due to the gap between its economic muscle and perceived moral authority; economic power and low soft power. But today, China has a new policy thrust, a corrective to make China "lovable". The effort is envisaged to rectify, correct and reverse the backlash of China's BRI, 'go-out" policy and low soft-power. How is "Lovable" China manifesting in policy and practice? The genesis of why this has emerged, how China seeks to achieve this and a critique of the evolving policy will be the focus point of the paper.
About the Speaker
Dr. Anurag Viswanath is a Singapore based independent writer and China Analyst for several Asian publications & Adjunct Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies, New Delhi, India. Anurag is a prolific writer on China. While she has written about Thailand, India, Singapore, her main focus is contemporary China. Her book "Finding India in China: Travels to the Lesser Known" was published in Singapore, in 2015. She has also published more than 150+ articles in Bangkok Post, Prachatai & Nation (Thailand), Far Eastern Economic Review (Hong Kong) and Journal of Contemporary Asia (Manila). Within India, she has written in Economic and Political Weekly (Mumbai), Global Affairs (Mumbai) and Indian Management (Delhi). She was a regular writer at Business Standard (Delhi) from 2007-2011. Since 2011, she is a regular writer with Financial Express (Delhi).
About the Chair
Prof. Alka Acharya is Professor at the Centre for East Asian Studies (Chinese Studies) , Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). She has been Director and Senior Fellow at the Institute of Chinese Studies, and also Editor of the quarterly journal China Report (New Delhi) from 2005-2013. She was nominated by the Indian government as a member of the India-China Eminent Persons Group (2006-2008) and member of the National Security Advisory Board of the Government of India for two terms (2006-2008) and (2011-2012). She has authored a book 'China & India: Politics of Incremental Engagement', published in 2008. Her current research focuses on India-China-Russia Trilateral Cooperation and the Chinese strategic response to the post-Cold War regional architecture, with special reference to China's neighborhood.
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