The Struggle for Soft Power in Asia: Public Diplomacy and Regional Competition
Throughout Asia, states are competing to build and leverage soft power using public diplomacy. This article examines these investments, whether they pay dividends, and why they are being made. A mix of qualitative and quantitative analysis shows little, if any, positive correlation between public diplomacy by Asian states and foreign public opinion. We therefore ask why states invest in public diplomacy when it does not seem to work. We argue that different motives are at play: The struggle for soft power is driven by both a logic of consequences and logic of appropriateness. Lastly, we suggest how this struggle might aggravate rather than ameliorate tensions in the region.