China’s Soft Power: Culturalisation along the Belt Road Corridors by Prof Kuah Khun Eng
Date : 22 May 2018
Time : 16:00 - 17:30
Venue : Asia Research Institute, Seminar Room
AS8 Level 4, 10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260
National University of Singapore @ KRC


Prof Jonathan Rigg, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore


This paper will explore the hypothesis that the Belt Road Initiative (BRI) advanced by Xi Jinping will lead to cultural exchanges and the formation of varieties of Chinese diasporic communities along the BRI corridors. Through the use of soft power in the form of foreign and humanitarian aids and expansion of education through the establishment of Confucius Institutes and classrooms and branch university campuses globally, China is persuading and nudging the global world to embrace its role on the global stage. It is also redefining the global transformation and its influence through its own terms. Through such actions, it will deepen China’s cultural connectivity with the countries along the BRI corridors. In so doing, it creates “collaborative territorial spaces” and cultural basins where it is not the economic, but cultural flows that will shape deep interactions and connectivity, resulting in the formation of hybridized imagined communities along shared social cultural interests. Here, nation-state boundaries becomes less significant. In the foreseeable future, the effects of China’s use of soft power will ultimately led what Hobsbawn and Ranger argued for an invented tradition along the various corridors.


Kuah Khun Eng is a visiting academic at the School of Social Sciences (Sociology), Nanyang Technological University. Prior to this, she was Professor of Anthropology and Head of the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash University Malaysia, Associate Professor at the University of Hong Kong and lecturer at University of Melbourne. She also held visiting positions at Harvard University, University of Paris Diderot and Oxford University. She has published 3 sole-author books (2 with 2nd edition and one with a Chinese version), 9 edited or co-edited books and guest editor/co-editor of 4 journal issues and numerous journal articles and book chapters. Her key areas of research include the Chinese Diaspora-China relationship, Chinese women and networks, protest spaces and social movements, religion (Buddhism) and politics, religious philanthropy and philanthropy in China.


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Minghua TAY