Paper title:
  A New Face of China: Sharp Power Strategy and its Global Effects
Published in:
Issue 2 (Vol. 29) / 2023
Publishing date:
375 – 400
Ejazul Haq Ateed, Merve Suna Özel Özcan
China’s rapid emergence as a great power in the world has not only influenced the actions of other countries, but also introduced new concepts to academic discourses. One of these concepts is sharp power, which has entered academia to theoretically explain China and Russia’s rise. More particularly, China’s actions to consolidate its position as a great power and to restore its image, have given rise to this concept. Its influence in other countries is intangible in nature and tools, but it has great tangible effects. At first, this article seeks to examine sharp power as a new concept and explain China’s influential behaviours. Sec-ond, it will study the rationale of China’s sharp power and then scrutinize its indicators in the world. The paper assumes that China has infiltrated the world by using intangible but powerful tools and is consolidating its foothold in different countries.
China, Sharp Power, Hard Power, Soft Power, Influence, Strategy

1. Acker, Kevin, Brautigam, Deborah, Twenty Years of Data on China’s Africa Lending, in
2. Allen-Ebrahimian Bethany, This Beijing-Linked Billionaire is Funding Policy Research at Washington’s Most Influential Institutions, in “Foreign Policy”, 2017,
3. Bandurski David, China Media Project, in
4. Benvenuti Andrea et al., China’s Foreign Policy: The Emergency of a Great Power, Routledge, 2022.
5. Bertelsen Olga, Goldman Jan, Russian Active Measures, Columbia Uni-versity Press, 2021.
6. Brady Anne-Marie, Magic Weapons: China’s Political Influence Activities under Xi Jinping,
7. Cao Huhua, Paltiel Jeremy (Eds.), Facing China as a New Global Superpower: Domestic and International Dynamics from a Multidisciplinary Angle, Singapore, Heidelberg et al., Springer, 2015.
8. Cook Sarah, China’s Global Media Footprint: Democratic Responses to Expanding Authoritarian Influence. National Endowment for Democracy, in
9. Cook Sarah,, Chinese Government Influence on the U.S. Media Landscape. Freedom House, in
10. Dahl Robert A., The Concept of Power, in “Behavioral Science”, 2 (3), 1957, 201-215.
11. DeYoung Karen, As China Arrives with a Splash in Honduras, the U.S. Wrings its Hands, in “The Washington Post”,
12. d’Hooghe Ingrid, Public Diplomacy in the People’s Republic of China, in Jan Melissen (Ed.), The New Public Diplomacy: Soft Power in International Relations Palgrave Macmillan, 2005, pp. 88-105.
13. Diamond Larry, Schell Orville, China’s Influence & American Interests: Promoting ConstructiveVigilance: Report of the Working Group on Chinese Influence Activities in the United States, Stanford California, Hoover Institution Press, 2019.
14. Dimitrios Stroikos, ‘Head of the Dragon’ or ‘Trojan Horse’?: Reas-sessing China–Greece Relations, in “Journal of Contemporary China”, 32(142), 2023, pp. 602-619.
15. DiResta Renée et al., Telling China’s Story: The Chinese Communist Party’s Campaign to Shape Global Narratives, Stanford Digital Repository, 2020,
16. Dreyer June Teufel, Roundtable on Sharp Power, Soft Power, and the Challenge of Democracy: A Report from the 2018 Annual Meeting of the American Association for Chinese Studies, in “American Journal of Chinese Studies”, 25 (2), 2018, pp. 147-156.
17. Eisenman Joshua, Heginbotham Eric, China’s Relations with Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, in D. Shambaugh (Ed.), China and the World, Oxford University Press, 2020, pp. 291-312.
18. Faligot Roger, Chinese Spies: From Chairman Mao to Xi Jinping, trans. N. Lehrer, 2nd ed. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers Ltd, 2019.
19. Fulda Andreas, The Struggle for Democracy in Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong: Sharp Power and its Discontents, Routledge, 2020.
20. Freedom House, Freedom in the World 2022.
21. Greene Ethan, Sharp Power: How Foreign Election Election Interference is Changing the Global Balance of Power [Honors Thesis Western Washington University], 2020.
22. Gries Peter, Nationalism, Social Influences, and Chinese Foreign Policy, in D. Shambaugh (Ed.), China and the World Oxford University Press, 2020, pp. 63-84.
23. Gu Bo, China Proposes Plan to Block Private Investment in Media, in “Voice of America”, 2021,
24. Confucius Institute Latin America Regional Center Holds China-Latin America Forum on ‘Bond across the Ocean’, in
25. Hamilton Clive, Silent Invasion: China’s Influence in Australia, Hardie Grant Publishing, 2018.
26. Hao Zhidong, Academic Freedom Under Siege: What, Why, and What is to be Done, in Zhidong Hao, Peter Zabielskis (Eds.), Academic Freedom Under Siege: Higher Education in East Asia, the U.S. and Australia, Springer Nature, 2020, pp. 1-36.
27. Hippel Karin von, Axis of Disruption: Chinese and Russian Influence and Interference in Europe: Introduction to a New RUSI Series on Russia and China in Europe, in “Royal United Service Institute for Defense and Security Studies”, 2020.
28. Holstein William J., The New Art of War – China’s Deep Strategy Inside the United States, Brick Tower Press, 2019.
29. Ho Wai-Chung, Culture, Music Education, and the Chinese Dream in Mainland China, Springer Nature Singapore, 2018.
30. Huang Carol, Hu Connie Chuyun, Study Hard but Do Tour to See the World: Tourism of Chinese Students Who Studied in the United States, in In Belal Shneikat, Cihan Cobanoglu, Cem Tanova (Eds.), Global Perspectives on Recruiting International Students: Challenges and Opportunities, Bingley, Emerald Group Publishing, 2021, pp. 37-49.
31. Jones Seth G., Harding Emily, Doxsee Catrina, Harrington Jake, McCabe Riley, Competing Without Fighting: China’s Strategy of Political Warfare, Wash-ington, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), 2023.
32. Jonsson Oscar, The Russian Understanding of War: Blurring the Lines between War and Peace, George Town University Press, 2019.
33. Jianga Fei et al., The Voice of China in Africa: Media, Communication Technologies and Image-building, in “Chinese Journal of Communication”, 9 (1), 1-7, 2016.
34. Kudors Andis, Russia and Latvia A Case of Sharp Power, Routledge, 2014.
35. Koh Gui Quing, Shiffman John, Beijing’s Covert Radio Network Airs China-Friendly News Across Washington, and the World, in
36. Le Corre Philippe, Chinese Investments in European Countries: Expe-riences and Lessons for the ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative, in M. Mayer (Ed.), Rethink-ing the Silk Road: China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Emerging Eurasian Rela-tions, Springer Nature Singapore, 2017, pp. 161-171.
37. Leonova Olga, Sharp Power – The New Technology of Influence in a Global World, in “World Economy and International Relations, 63 (2), 2019, pp. 21-28.
38. Lindstaedt Natasha, Democratic Decay and Authoritarian Resurgence, Bristol University Press, 2021.
39. Little Matthew, Michael Chan and the Troubling Thumbprint of the Chinese Communist Party in Canada, in “The Epoch Times”, 18.06.2015,
40. Maness Ryan C., Valeriano Brando, Russia’s Coercive Diplomacy: En-ergy, Cyber and Maritime Policy as New Source of Power. Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.
41. Matthew Reynolds, Matthew Goodman P., China’s Economic Coer-cion: Lessons from Lithuania, in “Center for Strategic and International Studies” (CSIS), 06.05.2022,
42. Ministry of Education The People Republic of China, Statistics on Chinese Learners Studying Overseas in 2019, 2020, in
43. Nye Joseph S. Jr, Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics, New York, PublicAffairs Books, 2005.
44. Nye Joseph S. Jr, Think Again: Soft Power, in “Foreign Policy”,
45. Nye Joseph S. Jr, Security and Smart Power, in “American Behavioral Scientist”, 51 (9), 2008,
46. Nye Joseph S. Jr, Is the American Century Over? New York, John Wiley & Sons, 2015.
47. Nye Joseph S. Jr, How Sharp Power Threatens Soft Power in “Foreign Affairs”, electronic variant, 2018,
48. Ofosu George, Sarpong David, China in Africa: On the Competing Perspectives of the Value of Sino-Africa Business Relationships, in “Journal of Economic Issues”, 56 (1), 2022, pp. 137-157.
49. Okano-Heijmans Maaike, Terada Takashi, EU-Japan Relations in the Age of Competitive Economic Governance in Asia, in A. Berkofsky, C. W. Hughes, P. Midford, M. Söderberg (Eds.), The EU – Japan Partnership in the Shadow of China: The Crisis of Liberalism, Routledge, 2018, pp. 97-117.
50. Rabinowitz Hannah, Perez Evan, Valle Lauren del, FBI Arrests Two Al-leged Chinese Agents and Charges Dozens with Working Inside US to Silence Dis-sidents, in
51. Raimundo António, Stavridis Stelios, Tsardanidis Charalambos, The Eurozone crisis’ impact: a de-Europeanization of Greek and Portuguese foreign policies?, in “Journal of European Integration”, no. 43 (5), 2021, pp. 535-550.
52. Singh Prashant Kumar, Xi Jinping’s ‘Chinese Dream’ China’s Renewed Foreign and Security Policy, Routledge, 2022.
53. Shao Jingkai, Exploring China’s ‘Sharp Power’: Conceptual Deficiencies and Alternatives, in “Transcomunication”, no. 6 (2), 2019, pp. 129-148.
54. Smith Jeff M., China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Strategic Implications and International Opposition, in “The Heritage Foundation”, no. 3331, August 9, 2018,
55. Short Senéad, Sharp Power: China’s Solution to Maintaining the Legitimacy of its Non-Interference Policy [BS thesis, University of Iowa],
56. Štěpař Roman, China’s Sharp Power: How China Seeks to Influence and Coerce its Neighbours [Master Thesis, Charles University, 2020],
57. Tartar Andre, Rojanasakul Mira, Diamond Jeremy Scott, How China is Buying its Way into Europe, in
58. Tzu Sun, The Art of War, translated by Thomas Cleary, Colorado, Shambhala Publications, 2019.
59. Uhlmann Chris, Greene Andrew, Chinese Donors to Australian Political Parties: who gave how much?
60. Walker Christopher, Ludwig Jessica, Sharp Power: Rising Authoritarian Influence in the Democratic World. National Endowment for Democracy.
61. Xu Xiao, Dismissed Chinese Newspaper Editor Files Human-Rights Complaint in B.C., in “The Globe and Mail”, electronic variant,
62. Yang Yi Edward, China’s Strategic Narratives in Global Governance Reform under Xi Jinping, in “ Journal of Contemporary China”, 30 (128), 2021, pp. 299-313.
63. Zamfir Rufin, Tiut Andrei, Chinese Influence in Romania, in “Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA)”, August 17, 2022.
64. Zhao Suisheng, China’s Foreign Policy Making Process: Players and Institutions, in D. Shambaugh (Ed.), China and the World New York, Oxford University Press, 2020, pp. 85-112.