Chinaâ€™s diplomatic success in Africa: Value of soft powerâ€™ | Zambia Daily Mail What is the Difference between Hard and Soft Power? The most widely held definition of power is the capacity to do things and to affect the behaviour of others to make those things happen. A distinguished foreign policy scholar, Professor Joseph Nye in his book â€˜Bound to Leadâ€™ (1990) has expanded this definition of power. Nye states that power is the ability to influence the behaviour of others to accomplish the outcomes one wants. Soft power is contrasted with hard power, which is the use of military and economic might to make others change their position. Hard power can rest on inducements or threats, otherwise known as â€œcarrots and sticks.â€ Hard Power is not always the necessary or desirable strategy for achieving an aim. Sometimes a nation can achieve its goals without tangible threats or payoffs; it does not rely on hard but soft power. Nye defines â€œsoft powerâ€ as a countryâ€™s ability to influence events through persuasion and attraction, rather than military or financial coercion. Chinaâ€™s Use of Soft Power in Africa. The Peoplesâ€™ Republic of China (PRC) is today demonised in some sections of the Western media as a â€˜new colonial powerâ€™ in Africa. In the 21st Century, Western diplomats and academics have become Africaâ€™s most articulate â€˜defendersâ€™ against what they claim to be Chinaâ€™s new imperialism. However, what is the real truth behind the veneer of alarmist rhetoric emanating from Western capital cities? Why are Western politicians and their allies in the media so apprehensive with the growing influence of the Peopleâ€™s Republic of China in sub-Saharan Africa? Why do Western governments relentlessly accuse the Chinese government of not â€˜responsiblyâ€™ using its privileged position on the UN Security Council to punish â€˜naughtyâ€™ African leaders deemed to be guilty of â€˜Bad Governanceâ€™? The answers to these questions can be summed up by one phrase; â€˜Strategic Declineâ€™ Western politicians and academics have suddenly discovered that, contrary to their apocalyptic predictions of the 1990s, that Africa was a â€˜doomedâ€™ continent full of â€˜failing statesâ€™, the continent has immense geo-strategic value after all. African leaders need not bow to western politicians with a begging bowl in the hand, because they have a credible alternative partner in the Peoplesâ€™ Republic of China. Chinaâ€™s diplomacy is refreshingly different. Instead of lecturing African countries on good governance in â€˜hard powerâ€™ language, i.e. threats and ultimatums, China uses gentle language of mutually beneficial development cooperation and political dialogue in its discourse with African countries. Simply put, China deploys soft power in Africa very prudently. China projects soft power by building visible infrastructure projects on the continent. From the â€˜Uhuruâ€™ Tanzam Railway project, that links Zambia to the Indian Ocean to the African Unionâ€™s new gleaming skyscraper headquarters complex in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. China is making real and noticeable differences in the lives of Africans all over Africa. Impact of Chinaâ€™s Soft Power in Zambia: The Tanzam Railway Project It is often forgotten by Zambians that in the 1960s, Zambiaâ€™s founding President Dr Kenneth Kaunda and his Tanzanian counterpart, Dr. Julius K. Nyerere wanted Zambia to reroute its external trade from Southern Africa, then under the control of white settler colonial governments. Kaunda and Nyerere asked the Western countries and international financial institutions for a loan to finance construction of a rail link between the Tanzanian port of Dar-es Salaam and Kapiri Mposhi. The two African leaders were politely told by Western leaders of that era, that their idea did not make economic sense. In 1967 Dr. Kaunda flew to Beijing to see chairman Mao Tse Tung and Prime Minister Zou-en Lai to appeal for Chinese help in building the rail link. Prime Minister Zou en Lai told Dr. Kaunda that despite China being a developing country itself, beset with its own problems, China would offer Tanzania and Zambia a soft loan to build the railway. The Tanzam railway project, which was much vilified by the Western governments and their media, was completed in 1975. Apart from rerouting Zambiaâ€™s external trade away from Southern Africa, the Tanzam railway enabled Tanzania and Zambia to accelerate decolonisation in Southern Africa by supplying weapons and other forms of support to liberation movements in the sub-region. The Tanzam railway has additionally proved to be a catalyst in promoting regional cooperation in Eastern and Southern Africa. Beyond the Tanzam railway project, Chinese firms have built the highly impressive government complex that now houses many government Ministries/Departments, the world class Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola and other infrastructure projects all over Zambia. Further afield, China is establishing Special Economic Zones in Cameroon, Egypt, Tanzania and Zambia modelled on Special Economic Zones that China set up in the late 1970s along its pacific coast, as part of reforms initiated by former Chinese leader, Deng Xhiao Ping. Chinese language schools and Confucius Institutes are springing up all over Africa to enable young Africans learn about ancient Chinese culture as well as exploring economic opportunities offered by growing Africa-China ties China-Africa Diplomatic Cooperation In 1971, following the concerted efforts of the Africa group in the UN, the UN General Assembly voted to admit the Peoplesâ€™ Republic of China as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. UN Membership of the Peoples Republic of China, meant expulsion of the Western backed Republic of China (RoC) that had hitherto occupied mainland Chinaâ€™s seat. China did not forget Africaâ€™s support in making it possible for Beijing to assume its deserved position in the UN. Thus in 1981, China strongly supported Tanzanian Foreign Affairs Minister Salim A. Salim in his unsuccessful bid to become UN Secretary-General. A decade later, the PRC warned Western countries it would veto any non-African candidate who would seek the post of UN Secretary General. Thus; it was solid Chinese support to the Africa bloc at the United Nations that enabled Egyptâ€™s Boutros Boutros Ghali and his successor Ghanaâ€™s Kofi Annan to lead the UN from 1992 to 2006. In return, the majority of African countries have severed diplomatic links with Republic of China, and maintain the one-China policy which is opposed to the division and balkanization of the Peoplesâ€™ Republic of China. In 2006, the Peoplesâ€™ Republic of China and the African Union established a strategic partnership entitled the Forum for China Africa Co-operation (FOCAC). Apart from formalising a forum for Chinaâ€™s leaders to deepen economic and other forms of cooperation with leaders of 54 African countries, FOCAC offers a platform for frank dialogue between the two sides to examine points of friction and difficulty in the strategic partnership. One key issue many African countries recurrently raise is the matter of trade imbalance between the PRC which imports mineral and energy resources from Africa and African countries which import Chinaâ€™s goods. Another sore point is the tendency of Chinese firms to violate local labour laws and their environmentally harmful practices. Chinese President Hu Jintao has advised African leaders that genuine friends should not spend too much time flattering each other but ought to honestly speak up when things are going wrong. African Attendance at FOCAC summits has been very good with well over 40 African Heads of state and government in attendance. Through the FOCAC framework, a regular Forum for Chinese and African Think Tanks has been established to offer concrete proposals to FOCAC to deepen China-Africa ties Understanding Beijingâ€™s preference for â€˜Soft Powerâ€™ Professor Xiong Zhiyong, an influential Chinese academic who teachers foreign policy studies at the China Foreign Affairs University Think Tank in Beijing has advanced a number of reasons to explain why the PRC prefers to use â€˜Softâ€™ rather than â€˜Hardâ€™ power in its global diplomacy. a. For the PRC to carry out its economic modernisation reforms, it needs a stable and peaceful global strategic environment. A conflict or upheaval of global ramifications would place in jeopardy Chinaâ€™s internal economic and political reforms b. China recognises and accepts that the United States of America (USA) is the worldâ€™s sole superpower in the post-Cold War-era Global Order. The USAâ€™s possesses overwhelming hard-power resources and China is therefore absolutely reluctant to enter into a hard-power confrontation with Washington. The PRC therefore seeks to avoid a head-on collision with the US at all costs in Africa and elsewhere; c. The PRCâ€™s biggest trading partner is the USA. It is therefore important that this relationship is not disrupted as it might exacerbate widening socio-economic inequalities which could trigger â€˜Arab Springâ€™ type of protests in metropolisâ€™ such as Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou etc. Persuasion and dialogue are therefore key words in Beijingâ€™s relations with other countries. This point reinforces Chinaâ€™s preference for a â€˜Soft Powerâ€™ approach when dealing with the United States and other major powers on African issues; d. Despite the prosperity evidenced by the gleaming skyscrapers of Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou etc. China is still burdened by 100 million citizens who live below the poverty line. Pulling 100 million people out of poverty is a daunting challenge by any measure. Socio-economic inequalities are widening and corruption is on the rise in a society built on values of equality and fairness. e. China has limited arable land to use for food production to feed a population of 1.3 billion people. While the Eastern part of China has benefited from the open door economic policy reforms initiated by Deng Xhiao Ping in the 1970s, the Western part of the country remains a desolate and barren backwater, comprising desert and other inhospitable terrain. A hard-power confrontation with any of its neighbours such as India with whom it fought a border war in the 1960s or the former Soviet Union with whom it had an armed border conflict in 1969 would distract China from the task of pulling 100 million people out of poverty; f. The PRC consistently maintains that all countries should be permitted to resolve their internal political problems without external interference. This is why the PRCâ€™s position has been misunderstood to suggest that it uses its membership of the UN Security Council to â€˜protectâ€™ â€˜rogue regimesâ€™. Beijing maintains that solutions to internal governance problems must be based on â€˜local authorship and ownershipâ€™ if they are to be sustainable-Solutions cannot be imposed by outsiders.