Returning to the Middle Kingdom: The Chinese Communist Party Soft Power Strategy

Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type




First Advisor

Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


The world continues to witness the global influence of Chinese Communist Party (CCP). This expansion should concern the international community and those who advocate for human rights, environmental preservation, and global cooperation. Unlike most of the world’s democracy, the CCP does not prioritize individual liberties or the democratic advancement of less developed nations. While continuing to degrade the environment and ecosystems with impunity across the globe, the CCP’s disregard for international norms and laws at the onset of the global pandemic is even more apparent. Scholars, diplomats, politicians, and human rights groups seek to understand the methodology and end state of the CCP. Few recognize the CCP’s soft power strategy as a precise balance of political, economic, military, and cultural domains and means formulated over several decades by a unitary government. This literature review examines the fusion of Chinese ideology within Weiqi, Unrestricted Warfare, and soft power to better understand CCP global strategy. Joseph Nye defines soft power as “getting others to want the outcomes that you want, co-opts people rather than coerces them” (Meng 2012). In 1999 two Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) colonels published Unrestricted Warfare (URW). Unrestricted Warfare is defined as “warfare which transcends all boundaries and limits”. This omni-present warfare strategy shares theoretical elements with Weiqi, an abstract strategy board game for two players in which the aim is to surround your opponent, restricting liberties via connections and consuming territory. To best understand the CCP’s soft power strategy, with Chinese characteristic, we must examine the fusion of cultural knowledge, military doctrine, and economic investments.

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