BYU Asian Studies Journal


Taylor Shippen


BYU Asian Studies, China, economics


China’s growing willingness to project military power may make the nightly news, but military power is not China’s greatest tool in achieving political ends. Since Deng Xiaoping began his reforms in 1978, economic influence has been the source of many of China’s diplomatic breakthroughs with the West. Although there is some dispute among scholars about what to call China’s growing influence (Klein 1994: 39; Huang 2013), for the purposes of this paper, China’s growing persuasiveness will be based on Joseph Nye’s definition of hard power, which he defines as “the ability to use the carrots and sticks of economic and military might to make others follow your will” (Nye 2003). As China’s power grows, Western nations should not be surprised to find China capable of influencing their policies using tactics that Western countries have used throughout the twentieth century. The Chinese have been wielding economic power for a long time. Ancient records show that when countries on the periphery of ancient China combined forces, Chinese emperors would employ “gifts” to help turn hostile forces against each other.