Analyzing and forecasting the Gulf Cooperation Council's geopolitical environment

China’s Soft-Power in the Gulf

By Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat
February 12, 2016

Throughout the past two decades, China’s foreign policy strategists have embraced the use of media and educational ‘soft-power’. Joseph Nye first introduced the term ‘soft-power’ in 1990, referring to a state’s ability to advance national interests through culture and values. There is growing discomfort in some corners of the world regarding the implications of China’s rise on the international stage. Many are doubtful as to whether a growing China can become a responsible and peaceful world power. For this reason, officials in Beijing realize the importance of educational, cultural, and media resources to reassure and engage the outside world and to counter opposition to China’s rise.

Analysts have highlighted China’s expanded use of soft-power in many countries, yet there has been little discussion of Beijing’s soft-power initiative within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), where the Chinese are actively employing soft-power resources to enhance their foothold in the Gulf Arab nations.

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Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat is a Gulf State Analytics analyst based in Qatar. His areas of expertise include China-Middle East relations, Indonesia-Gulf ties, and Muslim affairs.