China’s Stadium Diplomacy and its Determinants

A Typological Investigation of Soft Power


  • Hugh Vondracek



Since 1958, China has constructed over 140 sports facilities around the world. Previous
research into stadium diplomacy lacks definitional clarity, has not systematically investigated
the phenomenon, and crucially, has failed to explain why China employs stadium diplomacy
where it does. This article defines the phenomenon and locates all known cases without
temporal or geographic restrictions. We create a classification system and typology,
permitting a comparison of theoretically-like types to develop and test a multi-determinant
theory. We find empirical evidence that China employs stadium diplomacy to secure natural
resources and to secure diplomatic recognition in line with the One-China policy. These
findings have important implications for scholarship into the use of soft power within
interstate rivalry, and the methodology demonstrates that a clear typology of soft power which is mutually exclusive and logically exhaustive can be created and is informative.

Keywords: China, stadium diplomacy, soft power, interstate rivalry

Author Biography

Hugh Vondracek

Hugh Vondracek is a Research Data Analyst at Rush University, Chicago, Illinois, USA. E-mail: