Chinese Cultural Diplomacy towards ASEAN Countries Case Study of Confucius Institutes in Thailand

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Siripetch Trisanawadee

Abstract

Having successfully developed itself under the concept of “Chinese Socialism.” China has stepped forward to become a global superpowers in politics and economics. Also, China is eager to strengthen its power in the cultural sphere through cultural diplomacy. This can be seen from President XI Jinping’s strong will to promote China’s cultural soft power by disseminating modern Chinese values and showing the charm of Chinese culture to the world. As such, China’s cultural diplomacy has become stronger in many countries in recent years since Chinese leaders realize the significant role of culture as a strategic means to expand its influence in the global community. This cultural diplomacy strategy has been implemented since the 1990s and has shaped China’s foreign policy towards Southeast Asian countries including Thailand. This paper aims to discuss how China uses this cultural diplomacy strategy towards Thailand, Thailand’s responses to the diplomacy, and the changing roles of Chinese communities in Thai society. Also, it will explore the contribution of Confucius Institutes as part of the strategy to propagate images of China, as well as the impacts and limitations of Confucius Institutes. Finally, this paper will examine the role of Confucius Institutes in the newly established “One Belt One Road” strategies, which are expected to have a strong impact on ASEAN countries including Thailand.

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