Soft power



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SOFT POWER” AT SEA: ZHENG HE AND CHINA’S MARITIME DIPLOMACY
JAMES R. HOLMES

UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL TRADE AND SECURITY
As China turns its gaze seaward in search of prosperity and energy security, it has embarked on a naval buildup unprecedented in the nation’s modern history. To ease worries about its intentions and to amass “soft power” in the littoral regions of East, Southeast, and South Asia, Beijing has enlisted Zheng He (1371-1433), the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) “eunuch admiral” who commanded seven voyages of trade and discovery in these waters, setting sail for the first such cruise six centuries ago. While China’s Zheng He narrative is not good history for a variety of reasons, it has proved to be effective diplomacy. It behooves the United States to recognize this trend in Chinese diplomacy if it hopes to sustain its position as Asia’s leading maritime power.

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