Recently the phrase “sharp power” has become fashionable in the West when talking about China’s efforts to build its image overseas.
But as a Chinese saying goes, this is new wine in an old bottle, since it is nothing but another twist on the “China threat” theory that has long gone stale.
As Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a news conference on the sidelines of the annual session of the country’s top legislature on Thursday, those who do not have bias or practice double standards will not see China as a threat.
To drive home his point, Wang stressed the path of China’s development over the past decades has been peaceful, and it now contributes more than 30 per cent of the world’s economic growth and is the largest contributor of troops to United Nations peacekeeping missions among all the permanent members of the UN Security Council. All of which should have served to dispel suspicions about its intentions.
However, those who claim that China is a threat remain impervious to such facts. Instead, in their eyes, the Belt and Road Initiative, which has been proposed by China as a way to boost trade and connectivity among nations along the ancient Silk Road trade routes across Asia, Europe and Africa, is merely part of Beijing’s diabolical plan to rule the world.
Even though nothing could be farther from the truth, they cling to the belief that a rising power like China is bound to want to change the existing order and thus cast doubt on any win-win arrangements between China and other nations.
For them, the Cold War is not yet over, and they view everything through the lens of zero-sum geopolitics. It is because they cling to this mentality rather than exercise judgement that they are unable to relinquish the habit of telling others what is right while they themselves persist in doing wrong. Thus they claim that China is not conducting a traditional soft-power charm offensive but rather seeking to distract and manipulate in its bid for influence, when in reality it is they that are resorting to such sharp power to denigrate China.
Those willing to view China objectively will look for the real truth of the matter rather than accept unquestionably the imagining of it by those unwilling to let go of the familiarity of the past.