A/Prof Ying Zhou2
2Jinan University, Guangzhou, China
China has established the global network of Confucius Institutes (CI) and the extension form of Confucius Classroom to promote language and culture in an effect to enhance national soft power and create a more positive attitude toward China. Yet the overseas Chinese’s extensive participation in establishing and operating oversea CIs has been literately ignored by existing studies. That is prominently demonstrated in Southeast Asian countries. Why do the oversea Chinese actively engage with this government-sponsored soft power program? How do they engage? What are the transnational outcomes of their engagement in CIs and the implication for China’s foreign relations? This article drew on the theory of agent and the concept of soft power in international relations to reveal the role of overseas Chinese, one of the multiple types of agents that embody Chinese culture within soft power projects. Based on case studies in Thailand, Indonesia and Philippine, this article argues that the overseas Chinese’s engagement in CIs produced complex results and even contradictory goals and effects for China’s soft power.
Ying Zhou is an Associate Professor in the School of International Studies (Academy of Overseas Chinese Studies) at Jinan University, China. Her research focuses on Confucius Institute, public diplomacy, soft power, and international relations in East Asia.