ISEAS Perspective #36, 2013
The Philippines in China’s Soft Power Strategy
By Aileen San Pablo-Baviera (Guest Writer)
• China has expressly recognized the value of soft power as an instrument of diplomacy. The Philippines, because of its maritime disputes with China and its close security ties with the United States, is an interesting case for studying the efficacy of Chinese soft power.
• While awareness of Chinese culture and appreciation of its consumer products
have grown in the Philippines, there are hindrances (language gap, perceptions
of shoddy product quality, competing cultural influences, etc.) remaining that prevent these from translating into useful soft power.
• Chinese and Filipinos have widely divergent political values despite shared aspirations and common problems. China’s authoritarian political model does not offer great attraction for Filipinos in light of the Philippines’ own experiences.
• China’s approaches to development can provide many positive as well as a few
negative lessons for the Philippines as the latter strives to achieve similar progress and prosperity.
• China is likely to emerge as a major investor, creditor and source of development
assistance for the Philippines, but development cooperation needs to be consistent with certain partnership norms and governance principles already in place in
• Soft power is welcome, but in light of heightening territorial tensions, Filipinos
are likely to feel more reassured if China commits instead to using its hard power
less in the future.
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