A Dynamic Approach to the Analysis of Soft Power in International Relations

  • Chi Zhang The National Defence University PLA China and The University of Nottingham


This article discusses soft power in international relations and the soft power of China’s foreign policy in recent years. After presenting a critique of the soft power theory developed by Joseph S. Nye, the paper provides an alternative interpretation of soft power. The author proposes a dynamic analysis of soft power in international relations, and argues that whether a power resource is soft or hard depends on the perceptions and feelings of various actors in specific situations. Due to the varying degrees of acceptance, power can be divided into hard power, soft power and bargaining power. An analysis should look at the soft or hard effectiveness of a power resource from three perspectives–horizontally, vertically and relatively. Recently, the soft power of China’s foreign policy and international behavior has mainly been manifested in multilateralism, economic diplomacy and a good-neighborly policy.
Research Article