Does China actively promote its way of governing — and do other countries listen?

A lecturer conducts a class at the China Executive Leadership Academy in Jinggangshan, in southeastern China's Jiangxi province, on April 9. China also offers technical and civil service training to thousands of foreigners each year. (Emily Wang/AP)

THE WASHINGTON POST – By Jessica Chen WeissYesterday at 6:00 a.m. EDT

The Innovation and Competition Act of 2021, which recently passed the U.S. Senate, states that “the PRC [People’s Republic of China] is encouraging other countries to follow its model of ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’” and that “the PRC is promoting its governance model and attempting to weaken other models of governance.” I turned to Maria Repnikova, a political scientist and communication scholar at Georgia State University, who has studied Chinese training programs extensively, particularly in Africa. Her book on Chinese soft power is forthcoming as part of the Cambridge University Press Elements in Global China series, and she is completing a longer manuscript on Chinese soft power in Africa, with a focus on Ethiopia.

Jessica Chen Weiss: Does your research on Chinese training programs bear out the argument that China is promoting its governance model abroad?

Maria Repnikova: In my research, I find that these trainings — combining general introductions to China with specific content catered to the visitors — don’t present a coherent model of Chinese governance that can be adopted in other contexts. More broadly, the programs communicate the legitimacy of the Chinese political system and show off China’s successful development, especially in the economic sphere. But rather than encouraging foreign elites to follow China’s model, the trainings tend to advocate for self-reliance, and the idea of finding one’s own path.



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