China’s zero-Covid policy and ‘wolf warrior’ diplomacy have overshadowed its soft power efforts, but a shift in focus to the climate crisis could change that. Given the major commitments it has already made to cut carbon emissions, China should be positioning itself as a leader in climate diplomacy.
Both the US and China use history such as the Cold War and the Eight-Nation Alliance to bolster their positions and criticise the other side. The risk is that Washington could end up feeding Beijing’s narrative of Western imperialism, narrowing the scope for de-escalation.
International students remain barred from returning to China, and some are venting their frustration on Twitter. China’s inability to control user responses is undermining its social media messaging and the reputation of its higher education sector.
From the Hong Kong protests to the treatment of Uygurs in Xinjiang, China’s international image has seen severely dented this year. It must work to repair the damage through persuasion and co-option, not just by leaning on its economic stature.
After years of trying to win friends and gain influence through its outreach programmes, Beijing has run into a wall. The reason is twofold: China must improve its art of persuasion, and the West it seeks to impress must be willing to come to the party.