Power through Culture: The Gender Paradigm in China’s Soft Power Engagement in the Global South

Govind Kelkar, Ritu Agarwal


Despite the growing scholarly interest in China as a Global South power, two themes remain under investigated: One of the ways in which China has used soft power to project its comprehensive national capabilities and international power. Another theme that is overlooked by the existing China scholarship is the issue of gender. The so-called “miracle” of China’s recent rise as an economic powerhouse has also been a highly gendered process about which millions of women within China and outside the home raised concerns about the task of stronger political policies and actions that can institute gender equality and non-discrimination for women and girls. Soft power has played an important role in China’s international relations and the Party-State legitimacy among the people in China in terms of improving national pride and demonstrating that the world outside China admires the Chinese way of life—its social, economic institutions, cultural values, and the communist party of China’s (CPC) governance system.

This study presents an analysis of the gender equality paradigm in China’s soft power engagement in the Global South. A history of the CPC shows a consistent policy concern for women’s empowerment and gender equality, generally represented in the concept “women hold up half the sky”, and therefore entitled to their right to resources and equal position in society. Since the 18th National Congress the CPC, President Xi Jinping and the Central Committee committed to adhering the basic national policy of gender equality “as a code of conduct and value standard” for the entire society (China Government Network 2021:3) and advocated for women’s equal rights through strategic measures like participation in economic construction in the family and society, including “equal sharing of housework” and family responsibility such as care work (Chinese Government Network, 2021:31). Have these policy concerns for women’s empowerment been part of China’s structural system of soft power or part of China’s negotiations with any country in Asia?

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22158/ape.v6n4p8


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