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Building Goodwill through Soft power: An analysis of China’s Reputation in Sri Lanka

R.D.P. Sampath Rajapakshe

Department of Economics, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka

Abstract

Many researchers find out that impacted the types of Chinese foreign policy starting in the mid-1990s. However, Chinese foreign policymakers presented "New Grand Strategy" for the 21st century in the mid-1990s. This strategy exceptionally intended to advance and keep up China's image in the abroad. On the other hand, Policy observers contend introducing of the South Asian region that deliberately essential to emerging China. In addition, Chinese vicinity in Sri Lanka that verbalized by policy observers numerous ways. Firstly, rise of China as a world power focus the geographic position of Sri Lanka is imperative to Chinese vital trade routes. Besides, China's engagement in is a tit-for-tat strategy response to India's engagement in China's own South Asian peripheral. Thirdly, it is contended this is a piece of China's "String of Pearl" strategy building up. These contentions express that China's soft power in Sri Lanka that ought to be an extraordinary choice in Chinese policy arrangement. This article investigates current appearance of China's goodwill agenda inspecting two strains of Chinese policy in Sri Lanka that breaking point to observe foreign aid and the Confucius institute that lead the Peoples' Republic of China in 2000s. The paper additionally assesses the achievement of this alleged soft power crusade in Sri Lanka utilizing a worldwide overview to figure out whether the new introduction associates with changed Sri Lankan conclusions about China. This article assesses the adequacy of these endeavors by breaking down public opinion survey accumulated by the Gallup surveying in 2011. Information utilized for this article has been gathered from a substantial number of books, periodicals, magazines, journals. My findings demonstrate that the Goodwill Agenda has been fruitful at enhancing China's reputation in Sri Lanka.

Key Words: Goodwill, Soft Power, public opinion, Reputation

Introduction

Many researchers find out that impacted the types of Chinese foreign policy starting in the mid-1990s. On the other hand, Chinese foreign policy makers presented "New Grand Strategy" for the 21st century in the mid-1990s. This strategy uniquely intended to advance and keep up China's image in the abroad. The goodwill motivation can be seen as a soft power campaign that incorporate cultural, institution and aid related strategies. Goodwill upsurges nation's image, reputation and influence in the across the world.

On the other hand, Policy observers argue presenting of the South Asian region that deliberately critical to emerging China. In addition, Chinese vicinity in Sri Lanka that enunciated by policy observers numerous ways. Firstly, development of China as a world power focus the geographic position of Sri Lanka is vital to Chinese trade routes. Also, China's engagement in is a tit-for-tat strategy in response to India's engagement in China's own South Asian peripheral. Thirdly, it is contended this is a piece of China's "String of Pearl" strategy setting up. These contentions express that China's soft power in Sri Lanka that ought to be an extraordinary choice in Chinese foreign policy.

This article investigates current appearance of China's goodwill agenda analyzing two strains of Chinese current foreign policy in Sri Lanka that utmost to observe foreign aid and culture that offered to Sri Lanka by the Peoples' Republic of China in 2000-2011. The paper likewise assesses the accomplishment of this supposed soft power campaign in Sri Lanka utilizing an international survey to determine whether the new introduction connects with changed global sentiments about China. This article assesses the viability of these endeavors by analyzing public opinion polls accumulated by the Gallup polling survey in 2011. Additionally here examine when and why have attitudes of Sri Lankans towards China progressed.

Soft Power and International Relations

According to international relations theories and debates, soft power is a modern concept which aims to raise awareness of the political dimension through cultural actions. In the international politics soft power is established to a great extent in a nation's values communicated through its culture in taking care of its relations with different states. For instance, subsequent to being vanquished in the Franco-Prussian war, France endeavored to restore his reputation by advancing its language and its literature through the Alliance Française, established in 1883 (Melissen, 2005). In like manner, the projection of French culture abroad turned into an imperative segment of diplomacy in that nation. With a specific end goal to accomplish more compelling endeavors abroad, the decision makers of different states now investigate and execute new activities under the alleged soft power to accomplish their foreign policy destinations.

Today, with the advancement of the processes of economic and technological globalization, international relations will depend always seriously on culture, (or soft power) and economic power as opposed to military power. Albeit both hard power (political, economic and military activity) and soft power are important instruments to direct the foreign policy interests of one nation, the activity of fascination (Soft power) is much less expensive than coercion, or more all is of a higher worth. A nation needs to be a great power that needs material or hard power and in addition soft power to pick up adaptability inside of international politics. A world power ought to appear as a world cultural center including thoughts, values, norms; social life and convictions are alluring and speaking to individuals of rest of the world. Soft power does not make consequently affected by hard power; it must be deliberately enhanced and set up (Melissen, 2005).

The ideas of soft power that one of the most well-known liberal idea of current international relations. Joseph S. Nye has been the tour de power behind the multiplication of the idea both in scholarly and policy circles. Today, it won't be a distortion to say that soft power is a standout amongst the most unmistakable parts of foreign policy strategy of many states around the world (Nye, 2004). Five noteworthy written work of Nye characterize the historical backdrop of soft power. These are: Bound to Lead (1990), The Paradox of American Power (2002), Soft Power (2004), Power in Global Information Age (2004) and as of late The Future of Power (2011).

Building Chinese Goodwill through Soft Power

South Asia is relentlessly developing as a key need for the People's Republic of China and Sri Lanka situated in strategically place in the Indian Ocean. The eighteenth Chinese Communist Party (CCP) congress held in November 2012, had talked about the strategy parameters of the new administration. It said; “Peaceful development is Chinas basic state policy, and win –win cooperation is banner for China’s friendly relations with other countries. To realize “China’s dream”, we must have a peaceful international environment. At the same time, the country will resolutely safeguard its national sovereignty, security and core interests. The two policies are two pillars of Chinese diplomacy, and do not conflict with each other" (Fernando, 2011).

In the South Asian context, China's strategy recognition would decipher as enthusiastically shielding the integrity of its borders, seeking after its regional cases, creating key correspondence lines to the border areas. India's emergence as a quickly becoming economic and military power dominating the Indian Ocean this adds to China's key concerns. China's unresolved border dispute and unfulfilled territorial claims with India have kept on stewing admirably as India's growing strategic relationship with the US and Japan (Thomas, 2012).

Considering this environment, building a solid relationship with Sri Lanka was a logical step for China as it focuses a vital favorable position in securing its interests in the Indian Ocean region while giving a key turn in the Under belly of India. Sri Lanka can possibly have a tremendous effect in India's strategic security on account of its geographic proximity to India. In any case, smaller size makes it moves defenseless against India's strategic moves (Elmie, 2010). This is pertinent to the emerging role of China in Sri Lanka

Culture and the Confucius Institute Project in Sri Lanka

Chinese culture provides the premise to one of the nation's solid resources and has appealed to foreigners all through history. Nye contends that culture assumes an imperative part in a nation's soft power, and it is in this way obvious that cultural strategies highlight conspicuously in China's Goodwill Agenda. Culture conveys the power of fascination and in his productive written work on American soft power; Nye reliably indicates Hollywood, educational exchanges, popular sports, CNN and other cultural strengths that offer the United States some assistance with achieving its foreign policy  objectives and represent to a persisting element of American soft power. Many countries, including China and United States support language institutions, student exchanges or cultural projects to improve their national personality. The Confucius institute project is an outgrowth of Chinese endeavors in this enclosure. Intended to spread enthusiasm for Chinese culture, advance international business action inside of China and increase the number of people studying Chinese language, Confucius institutes and classrooms are an endeavor to highlight to positive components of China's image.  

In Sri Lanka, the Chinese goodwill agenda can be seen as a soft power campaign that consolidates cultural, institutional and aid related strategies with a specific end goal to support the Chinese image and impact. The Confucius Institute at the University of Kelaniya in Sri Lanka is illustration of training that principally, advancement of the Chinese language, being utilized as a device for building better ties. China Radio International (CRI) - China's state-owned overseas broadcaster is propelling on-air Confucius Institute in Sri Lanka. The cultural diplomatic activities have been executed through the Chinese educational scholarships. Beijing has been offering generous scholarships to Sri Lankan students for studying Chinese language and also seeking after different studies and research in China. The China Scholarship Council (CSC) has a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Higher Education Ministry of Sri Lanka, while China awards around 23 scholarships to Sri Lanka annually (The Government Information, 2014). Through these activities, China has possessed the capacity to advance itself as an inside for higher learning in medicine, science and Technology. This part of China's soft power is noticeable in Sri Lanka.

China has started a few agreements for encouraging cultural exchanges with individual South Asian nations. Cultural exchanges between China and Sri Lanka were encouraged through an institutional agreement signed in August 1979 (Elmie, 2010). Aside from these formal agreements between China and Sri Lanka, there are regular visits, and cultural exchange programs between two nations.

The Confucius institute task is not just cultural strategy of China's goodwill agenda. China has effectively utilized prominent occasions, for example, the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2010 Shanghai World Expo to showcase Chinese advancement, history and culture.

Notwithstanding, the Confucius institute venture speaks to China's most vital strategy along the cultural front and the Chinese government helps fund and encourage the program. After European language and cultural institute, for example, American Cultural Center and British Council, Confucius institute project extend comparatively endeavors to advance language and culture for diplomatic proposes in Sri Lanka. The Confucius institute in Sri Lanka highlights just positive components of the China brand produces enthusiasm for the nation; the general undertaking can be viewed as a sort of impression administration that underscored the picture of "a kinder and gentler China". Thusly, the Confucius institute project in Sri Lanka represents a solid case of a cultural soft power in China's universal reputation.

Building Goodwill through Chinese Aid in Sri Lanka

From this connection, China's goodwill agenda can be seen as a soft power campaign intended to support the nation's general global impact and respond to thereat oriented images about China. Joseph Nye noticed the term 'soft power' in 1990, which he characterizes as "the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payments" (Nye, 2004). Unmistakable from more customary understandings of military and economic power, soft power provides a nation extra base of power, one with the capacity to get "others to want the outcomes that you want" without applying huge assets or strong arm strategies to accomplish your objectives (Nye, 2004).

In this way, on the off chance that we consider soft power as alluring power, China's Goodwill Agenda is unmistakably intended to make China all the more speaking to international audiences. It attempts to advance a benign, positive, and peaceful image of China around the world through cultural, institutional and aid related strategies. Goodwill needs to offer China some assistance with winning companions and allies, and to progress to nation's agenda.

Recently Completed Chinese Project in Sri Lanka

Main Chinese Projects US$ Million

67km Navathkuli-Karaitvu-Mannar road

(non-concessional loan, China Development Bank) 48.4

113km length of Puttalam-Marichchikadde-Mannar road

(non-concessional loan, China Development Bank) 73.2

Southern Expressway from Pinnaduwa-Godagama 138.2

Material for lighting Sri Lanka Uva Province Project

(Uva Udanaya) 24.9

Priority road projects II

(non-concessional loan, China Development Bank) 500

Hambanthota Port development

(non-concessional loan, Exim Bank) 306.73

Bunkering facility and tank farm at Hambanthota

(non-concessional loan, Exim Bank) 65.09

Colombo-Katunayake Expressway project

(Concessional loan, Exim Bank) 248.2

Puttalam coal power project – Phase II

(non-concessional loan, Exim Bank) 891

Puttalam coal power project – Phase I

(non-concessional loan, Exim Bank) 455

Mattala Hambanthota international airport

(concessional loan, Exim Bank) 190

13 Diesel engines for Sri Lankan railway

(concessional loan, Exim Bank) 100

National performing arts theatre

(grant, Government of China) 17

Construction of roads

(non-concessional loan, China Development Bank) 10

Reconstruction of BMICH 7.2

100 Passenger Railway Carriages 27.0

Colombo Port Terminal Expansion

(non-concessional loan) 350

Source- Department of External Resources in Sri Lanka (www.erd.gov.lk)

China foreign aid program structure one of the vital strains of the goodwill agenda. Like all other donor countries, the People's Republic of China gives aid for a mix of political, economic and ideological reasons; China is gives aid as well as different nations to utilize aid to improve goodwill. China's aid projects is rhetoric and practice that taking into account peaceful co-existence principle, particularly, non-interference in domestic issues that a typical policy to Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka relations with China have been happening more grounded in the course of recent years; particularly as western governments started making so as to cut aid various allegations on human rights violations. In this connection, China has reported that it will give one million US dollars in humanitarian aid to Sri Lanka to offer the civilian affected by the conflict. China's procurements of 20 million Yuan tents have likewise come to Sri Lanka. China expanded its aid to Sri Lanka from a couple of million dollars in 2005 to around one million US dollar in 2008. By 2011, the aggregate sum of development assistance got from China surpassed the aggregate assistance by Japan, Traditionally, the main supplier of aid for Sri Lanka (Amarasjnghe, 2013). The statistics of aid from China during 1971-2012 stands at US$ 5.056 million, of which 94% was given amid the most recent eight years. Chinese commitments have ascended from 3% of all foreign aid in 2002 to 32% in 2012, coming to a top of 38% in 2011 (Amarasinghe, 2013).

Sri Lanka relations with China have been occurring stronger over the past several years, especially as western governments began cutting aid by making various allegations on human rights violations. In this context, China has announced that it will give one million US dollars in humanitarian aid to Sri Lanka to help the civilian affected by the conflict. China’s provisions of 20 million Yuan tents have also reached Sri Lanka. China increased its aid to Sri Lanka from a few million dollars in 2005 to about one million US dollar in 2008. By 2011, the total amount of development assistance received from China exceeded the total assistance by Japan, Traditionally, the main provider of aid for Sri Lanka.  The statistics of aid from China during 1971-2012 stands at US$ 5.056 million, of which 94% was provided during the last eight years. Chinese commitments have risen from 3% of all foreign aid in 2002 to 32% in 2012, reaching a peak of 38% in 2011.

On 13th August 2009 Sri Lanka signed two key formative tasks in particular Colombo Katunayake express way and Hambantota bunkering project worth US 350 million dollars with the Exim Bank of China (Foreign Aid Review, 2009). The signing of the two agreements will make ready for infrastructure necessities which will immense affect the future socio-economic development in Sri Lanka.

China provided special aid following the tsunami disaster in Sri Lanka. Chinese government provided US 1.5 million dollars in monetary support and relief goods (Amarasinghe, 2013). China also undertook reconstruction projects in tsunami affected areas, for examples, China-Sri Lanka relationship village; China-Sri Lanka Red Cross village and reconstruction work in three fisheries harbors. The Sri Lankan government begun remaking of transport segment and China has given most recent railway engines and power sets likewise hundred passenger carriages. Chinese aids have been utilized specifically for citizen's needs mainly roads and bridges (58%), power generation (20%) and ports and aviation (17%). In implementing these projects that involved Chinese companies as the metallurgical cooperation, the China Harbour engineering company, the Sin-hydro Cooperation, the China National Group Cooperation with agent companies facilitating operations (Amarashinghe, 2013).

Effectiveness of Chinese Soft Power in Sri Lanka

In order to evaluate the effectiveness of these soft power strategies I divide my analysis into two strains of foreign policy which culture and foreign aid. My objective here is to observe China's Goodwill Agenda and decide these strategies absolutely influenced China's reputation in Sri Lanka. I utilize polling data from the Gallup polling survey results which conducts of survey on opinion on Sri Lanka, to assess of these endeavors. This is the line with different researchers Nye and d' Hooghe who use opinion polls to measure the impact of soft power strategies (Nye, 2004). The Goodwill Agenda is intended to build a positive China brand, and I expect that China enhance their general sentiment of China when they keep on sharing foreign policy preferences.

The publically available Gallup opinion polling results as a particularly useful survey because it intended public opinion of Sri Lankans about major power. The question – “Do you approve or disapprove of the job performance of the leadership of China, United States, and United Kingdom…….”asked from Sri Lankan adults has been since 2008-2011. Results are based on thousand face to face interviews with adults, ages limited is 15 or older. For results based on total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4.1 percentage points. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

The Gallup public opinion survey results of Sri Lanka (Do you approve or disapprove of the job performance of…) (Sri Lankans Back Their Leadership, 2011).

Table-1

PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA

YEAR 2008 2009 2010 2011

Approve 39% 36% 34% 31%

Disapprove 4% 7% 7% 10%

Don’t know 57% 56% 59% 60%

United States of America

Approve 36% 36% 30% 24%

Disapprove 12% 13% 17% 26%

Don’t know 52% 51 54% 51%

United Kingdom

Approve 29% 21% 22% 21%

Disapprove 7% 17% 15% 18%

Don’t know 64% 63% 64% 62%

Russia

Approve 22% 21% 20% 19%

Disapprove 6% 11% 11% 15%

Don’t know 72% 68% 69% 66%

Germany

Approve 16% 16% 16% 16%

Disapprove 6% 14% 12% 16%

Don’t know 78% 70% 72% 78%

Source - http://www.gallup.com/

The table shows more Sri Lankans concur with the performance or leadership of China that of the United States, and they disappoint about some western nations' activity in Sri Lanka. They will probably affirm than dislike China's relations with current government. The Sri Lankan former president Rajapakshe has gone to China six times since come to power in 2005. Rajapakshe's August 2011 visit to Beijing, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao expressed to offer Sri Lanka's economic development, some assistance with promoting communication, cultural and personal exchanges between the two nations. Then again, the total amount of development assistance received from China surpassed the total assistance by Japan, Traditionally, the main supplier of aid for Sri Lanka. The insights of aid from China during 1971-2012 stands at US$ 5.056 million, of which 94% was given during the most recent eight years.

Sri Lankans are less interested with other countries' leadership, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, although many don't know enough about them to offer an opinion. U.S. leadership, which has been one of the more vocal critics of the Sri Lankan government's efforts to investigate alleged rights violations in the final stages of the war, has lost favor. Twenty-four percent of Sri Lankans say they approve of U.S. leadership, down 12 percentage points from 36% in 2008 and 2009.

Sri Lankans Attitudes about the Major Power in 2011

Bar Chart - 1

  Source: Gallup Polling Survey Data - 2009  

Conclusion

The growing of Chinese reputation in modern Sri Lanka is not a debatable topic. The secrecy is the swiftness and the economy with facts and figures in its aids and cultural relations. The facts remains that China has been a long standing friend of Sri Lanka. As China’s economy power has grown investing overseas has been a tactic used across the world by China to help bolster the national interests. China Strategic clout in Sri Lanka is increasing every day. Many Chinese assistance projects like Colombo container terminal, Hambantota port and Maththala airport, satellite and telecom endeavors provide legitimate access to grow soft power. China soft power is increasing visible in all aspects of Sri Lanka like society, political, diplomatic and development fronts as well. Chinese language teaching and cultural spread are also on the cards as a Confucius institute is schedule in Colombo.

Global and regional strategic reasoning behind Chinese development assistance is oftentimes undeniable. When it comes to Chinese strategic interests in Sri Lanka, there are several theories that have been articulated by foreign policy observers. Firstly, with the emergence of China as a global power center, the geographic position of Sri Lanka is important to China’s vital trade routes. Secondly, China’s engagement is a tit-for-tat strategy in response to India’s engagement in China’s own South East Asian backyard. Thirdly, it is argued that this is a part of China’s “String of Pearls” strategy establishing Chinese naval bases in Myanmar, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka; and finally that it is a general gesture of goodwill and building political capital in Sri Lanka.

References

1. Melissen Jan. ed. 2005. The New Public Diplomacy: Soft Power in International Relations. New York:  Palgrave McMillan.

2. Melissen, Jan. ed.  Ibid.

3. Joseph, Nye. 2004. Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics. New York: Perseus.

4. Fernando N. Sithara. 2011. “China's Relations with Sri Lanka and the Maldives: Among Big and Small Countries Models of Good Relations” Available at http://chr.sagepub.com/content/46/3/285. [Accessed on May 1, 2015].

5. Thomas, Lum, Wayne M. Morrison and Bruce, Vaughn. 2008. CRS Report for Congress, China’s ‘Soft Power’ in Southeast Asia. Available at https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL34310.pdf.[Accessed on June 23, 2015].

 6. Elmie, Konwar, Rengma. 2010. “Soft Power Game: A Study of China, India and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Tripartite”. Available at indiachinainstitute.org/.../2010/.../Elmie-Soft-Power-Game-A-Study-of-China-India-and-SAARC-Tripartite. [Accessed on March 23, 2015].

 7.  www.governmentinformation.lk

 8. Elmie, Konwar, Rengma. Ibid.

 9. Nye, Joshep S. 2004. Soft Power: The Means to success in World Politics, New York: Public Affairs.

 10. Nye,Joshep. Ibid.

11. Amarasinghe Dhanusha and Johann Rebert. 2013. Dynamics and Trends of Foreign Aid in Sri Lanka: Exploring space for context-sensitive aid delivery. International Alert.

12.  Amarasinghe Dhanusha and Johann Rebert. Ibid.

13. Department of External Resources Ministry of Finance and Planning, Sri Lanka. 2009.  Foreign Aid Review 2007, 2008 and 2009. Colombo: Government Press.

14. Amarasinghe Dhanusha and Johann Rebert. Ibid.

 15. Amarasinghe Dhanusha and Johann Rebert. Ibid.

16. Nye, Joshep. 2004. Ibid., and d’ Hooghe, Ingrid, 2011. The Limits of China’s Soft Power in Europe: Beijing’s Public Diplomacy Puzzle. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

17. Gallup Polling, 2011. Sri Lankans Back Their Leadership Amid Western Criticism: Less approving of U.S. leadership. Available at http://www.gallup.com/poll/149306/Sri-Lankans-Back-Leadership-Amid-Western-Criticism.aspx. [Accessed on January 13, 2015].

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