soft power

Application
of policy of “soft power” to the countries of Central Asia and
emerged problems

   Introduction

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   In recent
years People’s Republic of China was in many respects successful thanks to
“soft power”, it helped to find the status of the great power. One of
the main objectives of its use at the international level is a creation of an
attractive image of the country. The second task is the aspiration to force
other countries to accept cultural values of this state and carrying out the
ideology. It is necessary to recognize success of carrying out this policy as
the Chinese leaders and the increasing role of China as global player on the world
scene. It becomes all more the integrated into the international institutes,
capitalist and modern state. Thanks to rapid economic growth modern China has
more and more resources for the solution of the geopolitical and economic
interests which extend far away from the Asia- Pacific region. The People’s
Republic of China declares itself as about the leader in many spheres, in
particular already as well as about the spacefaring nation[1].

   The beginning
of realization of “Chinese soft power” is connected with coming to
power of Hu Jintao elected in November, 2002 as the secretary general of the
Central Committee of the CPC, and in March, 2003 – the Chinese President. In
foreign policy of China of this period there were new accents connected with
use of traditional tools of “soft power”. In October, 2007 at the
XVII congress of the Communist Party of China the policy of “cultural soft
power” was sounded as the separate direction of foreign policy of the
country. In the performance at Hu Jintao’s congress noted that fact that
“today culture becomes more and more important element of rivalry in
cumulative state power, and cultural development within the country has to be
followed by increase in its international influence”[2].
Thus China began to extend the influence on geopolitical important region –
Central Asia through the policy of “soft power”.

   In the concept of Chinese “soft power” in
Central Asia it is possible to allocate three main directions. The first of
them is carrying out the security policy directed to prevention of aggravation
of an international situation. According to it China seeks to separate from any
military conflicts if they do not infringe directly on its territorial
interests, as in case of Taiwan or islands in the South China Sea. The second
direction is relief action in economic and social area, health care, education,
the humanitarian sphere. Unlike the West, Beijing at the same time does not
connect assistance with political and ideological affairs. The third direction
are actually the actions of cultural character designed to show all to the
world modern achievements of the People’s Republic of China.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  
Silk Road Economic belt as an instrument of Red
dragon’s “soft power”

   Actually, as
the statistics testifies, China pursued active economic policy in the countries
of Central Asia from the middle of the first decade of the 21st century. After
the announcement of the concept “One belt- one road[3]”
it received the ideological embodiment.

   It is
possible to allocate two main objectives which are pursued by China at
implementation of this concept. First, this is gaining access to fields of raw
materials and other mineral. By estimates of British Petroleum, by 2035 China
will become the largest importer of energy carriers[4],
consuming a quarter of the electric power made in the world. In this regard,
China seeks to get access to natural resources of Central Asia, in particular,
to oil and gas.

   The main
reserves of Central Asian oil are concentrated in the Republic of Kazakhstan[5].
More than ten years China systematically expands the presence at oil and gas
branch of the country, redeeming assets from the western companies. At the same
time actions of the People’s Republic of China got support of the authorities
of the republic. In this plan the example of the American company
ConocoPhillips which in 2013 decided to sell a share in the largest Kazakhstan
project Kashagan is indicative, however did not regard the People’s Republic of
China as the buyer. The authorities of RK used the priority right for purchase
of a share, having received on it means from the Chinese side, and then
transferred a package of the Chinese CNPC[6].

Turkmenistan acts as the
supplier of gas on the Chinese market . Until the end of the first decade of
the 21st century all volume of the Turkmen gas went to Russia. In 2009 China
allocated funds for arrangement of the group of gas Galkanysh fields, largest
in the region, having become the only foreign company which got access to
development of the Turkmen fields on the land. Today China built network of gas
pipelines on delivery of the Turkmen gas to the territory and after refusal of
Russia of its purchase is the main sales market for Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan annually exports about
30-35 billion cubic meters of gas per year to China via a pipeline built with
Beijing funds, and hopes to double these volumes by 2020[7].

   The second task facing the People’s Republic
of China in realization of SREB is a development of the western regions of the
country remote from the main industrial centers and maritime routes of
transportation.

   According to the policy of development of
the western regions[8] the
development of the industry of the western regions assuming, in particular,
search and expansion of sales markets of production of the Chinese producers is
carried out. In this regard the countries of Central Asia act as attractive
sales market.

     Proceeding from structure of export of China
over the countries of the region, the main sales markets in CA for the People’s
Republic of China are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

  For achievement of goals China uses a complex
of various tools. The first of them is investment. Here it is about purchase of
a share by the Chinese companies in the enterprises of the Central Asian
countries. China invests, mainly, in the extracting sector. So, the Chinese
companies control more than a quarter of the Kazakhstan oil production now[9].

  Despite high appeal of investments to the
countries of the region, the sphere of their application is limited. Much more
often for financing of projects China allocates credit resources. In total by
the beginning of 2016 China provided in the form of loans to the countries of
Central Asia about 30 billion dollars. The highest credit activity of China is
observed in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, i.e. in the countries with large
supplies of mineral resources. In Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan the Chinese credits
are mainly utilized for reconstruction of power networks and roads. The Chinese
credits in Uzbekistan have other character. Unlike other states of the region
Tashkent persistently seeks to focus the Chinese capital on financing of the
real sector. Means are used for crediting of the Uzbek enterprises on condition
of purchase of the Chinese equipment by the last.

   Active credit policy of China in Central
Asian region led to rapid growth of debt dependence of the countries of the
region on east neighbor. In 2015 the share of the People’s Republic of China in
a capital export national debt of Tajikistan reached 43% (0,9 billion a dale)[10],
Kyrgyzstan – 35% (1,2 billion), Kazakhstan – 8,5% (13,3 billion).

The aforesaid data show the growing dependence of the countries of
Central Asia on China. China actively applies policy of soft power under the
pretext of an initiative of the “Silk Road Economic Belt”.

Soft power in education

Within the educational
direction China develops worldwide network of institutes of Confucius which are
supervised by the department of Hanban[11]
founded in 1987 – the state office on advance of Chinese abroad.

   According to
the Xinhua agency, for September, 2017 in the world there were 516 institutes
and 1076 classes of Confucius operating in 142 countries and regions of the
world. And the total of their listeners reached 7 million people.

  By 2020 the
number of institutes of Confucius is planned to be finished till 1000. At the
same time China pays close attention to “neighboring countries”. In
51 countries located along “A belt and a way” 135 institutes and 129
classes of Confucius are created[12].

    In the
territory of Central Asia about one and a half tens institutes of Confucius
which continue to develop actively are created.

   So, in
December, 2014 Confucius’s institute in Samarkand opened. In August, 2015
Confucius’s institute opened on the basis of Ore mining and smelting institute
in the city of Chkalovsk of the Sughd region of Tajikistan[13].
In February, 2017 agreements on opening of three classes of Confucius on the
basis of educational institutions of the Osh region of Kyrgyzstan – the Osh
technological university, the Osh humanitarian teacher training college and
also Bilim lyceum at the Osh state university were signed[14].
Besides, in Bishkek since September 1, 2017 the first Kyrgyz-Chinese school
constructed at the expense of the People’s Republic of China calculated more
than on 1000 pupils opened.

Cultural influence in
Central Asia Beijing expands also by training of students in the Chinese higher
education institutions. The most active growth of number of the studying
students in higher educational institutions of the People’s Republic of China is
shown by Kazakhstan and Tajikistan.

 

Kazakhstan which is actively
directing the citizens for training abroad is in the lead on this indicator. According
to the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China for 2015, the
number of the Kazakhstan students in China reached 13,2 thousand, having
increased for the last 10 years by 3,5 times. 
 “There are 8600 students from
Kazakhstan In China, only 200 of them are studying through the program called “Bolashak[15]”
(Future). Some study for the own money, but a considerable part — as the
Chinese grants. For China this advance of the Chinese culture — one,
familiarizing with the People’s Republic of China — two, at the very least it will
be the fifth column— three[16]”.

   The number of
the Tajik students in China makes several hundreds of people. According to the
Ministry of Education and Science of Tajikistan, in 2013/2014 academic year in
the Chinese higher education institutions on the quotas allocated to the
People’s Republic of China 122 Tajik students studied, and the next year their
number doubled. In 2015/2016 China allocated for citizens of Tajikistan 64
places for training at a language course, 105 places for training in the
program of a bachelor degree and 20 – magistracies. In total the possibility of
training in the People’s Republic of China at the expense of the budget as the
Tajik mass media report, last year was received 189, and this year – 298
people.

   However
review of quality of education which the Chinese higher education institutions give
is not unambiguous. The Tajik students, for example, note difficulties with
training at Chinese and also the negligent relation from the heads responsible
for writing of scientific works. According to the Russian experts, China is not
interested in making of students of the real experts at all.

   Emphasis when
training in the People’s Republic of China is placed on studying of Chinese and
culture. Thereby Beijing trains professional translators to provide with them
the Chinese companies working in the region. Graduates of the Chinese higher
education institutions quite often face also a job search problem in the
homeland which can be limited to the same Chinese enterprises operating in the
territory of the region.

  The present
status of China as the “world factory” making production for
multinational corporations does not promote building of “soft power”.
“China “imports” foreign knowledge, technologies and cultural
production, and his own knowledge, technologies and cultural products not only
“are hardly exported”, but even, perhaps, wither, having appeared
under control and influence of foreign soft power. Therefore the important
strategic direction of development of soft power of China is streamlining of
the economic structure based on foreign trade and the foreign capital, the
strengthened support of progress of sovereign economy and technological
innovations, development of the open system of knowledge having the Chinese
specifics”.

Manifestations of fears of “soft power” in
the countries of Central Asia

  For
strengthening of the Chinese cultural and ideological influence in Central Asia
there is one obstacle which Beijing could not overcome yet. It is called
“Yellow Peril[17]”.
The close neighbourhood with China and incomparability of its economic and
demographic potential with the countries of Central Asia, even combined,
generates the alerted relation to cooperation with Beijing from the population
and local elite.

In the region fears are
rather strong that China which already became one of the largest and for a
number of the countries – and the main economic partner and the investor, over
time finally “will digest” them and will put in rigid financial and
economic, and then and military-political dependence on China. And it will be
extremely difficult to escape from “paws of a dragon” in this case.

   Fears such in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan
having the general border with the People’s Republic of China are especially
strong. Periodically the fear of “Chinese threat” breaks outside. The
“land” disorders in Kazakhstan, which became the mass protests since
the notorious events of 2011 in Zhanaozen turned back death of 16 people[18].
The changes announced by the authorities in the Land code allowing foreigners
to lease lands not for 10 years as earlier, and for 25 years became a reason
for the disorders which happened in May, 2016[19].
It became in order that investors could pay back investments in the project.
But as a result across Kazakhstan the wave of meetings which participants
opposed agricultural appointment sale of land to Chinese swept. As a result
entry into force of problem articles of the Land code had to be cancelled.

  In Tajikistan concerns are caused by the growing
financial and economic dependence on the People’s Republic of China which more
and more finds “chronic” lines. By the end of 2016 the Chinese
investments into the republic reached $1,016 billion whereas investments of all
CIS countries – $950 million[20].

    According to
arrangements of two countries, direct investments of China to Tajikistan by
2020 have to reach $3 billion. Suspicions to Beijing especially amplified after
Dushanbe in January, 2011 transferred it 1,1 thousand sq.km of debatable ground
on Pamir. Persistent rumors went to media that Dushanbe transferred these lands
to Beijing on account of repayment of a debt, though officially everything was
issued as settlement of a territorial dispute. It is natural that such steps do
not add trust to China at all.

   In Uzbekistan
and Turkmenistan which have no the general border and territorial disputes with
China there are no such problems though the general alerted attitude towards
him remains. Not casually Chinese ambassadors in the countries of the region,
speaking about the prospects of increasing cooperation, express overcoming
stereotypes the need. 

   In order to avoid growth of a
tendency of “Chinese threat”, the Chinese authorities eventually
carry out policy soft power by means of signing of contracts in economy sphere.
Last year within development of “Silk Road Economic Belt” Kyrgyzstan
reached with the People’s Republic of China the agreement on transfer of excess
capacities to this republic. At the moment develop the plan for renewal of 44
enterprises in Kyrgyzstan.

   The similar
program for transfer of production capacities for the total amount of 26
billion is implemented with Kazakhstan. Besides, for the last few years RK
signed contracts for the sum of 48 billion dollars with China.

   Even
Uzbekistan which traditionally in foreign policy adhered to the principle of
equidistance from all “the centers of force” and remained long time
in the smallest dependence on China, during the visit of the president Shavkat
Mirziyoev to Beijing signed more than hundred agreements for the sum of 20
billion dollars.

    The People’s
Republic of China also remains to one of the main trade partners and investors
in Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, judging by an economic crisis in Russia, will
remain to the long-term period.

  Conclusion

  Summing up our
research, we can see that the external aspect of using “Soft power” policy is
caused by several factors. First, in the modern world of deepening of economic
globalization and political multipolarization “soft power” gets more
and more significant place in the international relations and already became
equally important, even, perhaps, even more important, force in comparison with
“firm force”. As one of world powers, China has to undertake in
defense of peace around the world the international responsibility which the
great power should bear. And for this purpose China has to pay, along with
increase in “the firm force”, even more attention to strengthening of
“soft power”.

   Secondly, strengthening of construction of
“soft power” of China represents an important point of increase in
its international competitiveness. The interstate competition is the
competition not only concerning resources, but also concerning wisdom at their
use. The wisdom expressed during use of the “firm force” appears
“soft power”.

   Thirdly,
today China became the main rival of the capitalist countries of the West. And
“to avoid mistakes of the Soviet Union” along with increase in policy
of “firm force”, it is necessary to increase as much as possible and
“soft power”.

     In spite of the fact that we clearly see
manifestations of soft power, in relation to Kazakhstan according to K.Syroezhkin,
the only thing that really can to stop advance of the People’s Republic of
China to Central Asia, it is stirring up of integration processes in Eurasia.
In this sense formation of the Customs union between Russia, Kazakhstan and
Belarus, and in the long term and formation of the Eurasian Economic Union
became essential steps forward in restriction of appetites of China in the
former Soviet Union in general and in Central Asia in particular. The author
consistently considers tactics of penetration of China into the region – from
granting grants to students for training in the Chinese higher education
institutions (30 thousand grants annually) to readiness to finance creation of
transport infrastructure from the Pacific Ocean to the Baltic Sea. K.Syroezhkin
considers that “the conflict of interests of China and Russia in Central
Asia will accrue, and is quite predictable that new political elite of the
states of the region will make a choice for China”. In this plan of the
People’s Republic of China the competition between Russia and the USA on space
of Central Asia quite arranges.

   In general
the efficiency of “soft power” policy is limited in Central Asia
because of the negative stereotypes created both in Soviet and during the
Post-Soviet period, the centralized character of the management of cultural
policy, lack of universal cultural values and the certain flexibility
characteristic of the western NGO tools.

   Advantages of
China are the strong cultural and historical tradition having huge potential,
the developed education system and the growing economic influence which a part
of analysts also refer to tools of “soft power”. Strengthening of
economic presence of the People’s Republic of China in Central Asia assumes
also strengthening of humanitarian influence. Whether the People’s Republic of
China will manage to neutralize the existing contradictions by means of
“soft power” is still big question.

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