Ai Weiwei exhibition in Istanbul 2017
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China’s soft power in Europe: falling on hard times

This new report of the European Think-tank Network on China (ETNC) looks at the standing of China’s soft power in Europe. Based on the separate analyses of 17 countries and EU institutions, the report concludes that China’s soft power in Europe – defined as the ability to influence preferences through attraction or persuasion – has fallen on hard times. The editing of this year’s report has been led by the Netherlands Institute for International Relations ‘Clingendael’ and its editors are Ties Dams, Xiaoxue Martin and Vera Kranenburg.

Barbara Pongratz, Research assistant at MERICS, provided the chapter on Germany and asserts that the broad economic appeal of China and its traditionally non-transparent channels of influence have been viewed more critically in the recent past leading to a dwindling of China’s soft power effectiveness in the country. She says that “consequently, China has had to become more assertive and use coercive measures to shape its image.” This assertiveness has however received a largely negative reception, with criticism towards China intensifying.

You can download a full text version of this chapter and the full ETNC report.

The European Think-tank Network on China (ETNC) is a gathering of China experts from a selection of European policy research institutes. It is devoted to the policy-oriented study of Chinese foreign policy and relations between China and European countries as well as China and the EU.