In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, Ms. Jessica Ludwig and Mr. Kevin Sheives join us to discuss China’s sharp power. Ms. Ludwig and Mr. Sheives first define sharp power and contrast it with other forms of influence, such as soft and hard power. They also explain notable differences between China’s sharp power strategy toward mature democracies and developing nations. They argue that a clear line between China’s domestic propaganda and global media projections does not exist, and that China has emerged as a trendsetter in sharp power that can take advantage of younger democracies’ inability to recognize propaganda and disinformation. Ms. Ludwig and Mr. Sheives also analyze the dynamics of China’s sharp power at work through foreign media partnerships and social media disinformation campaigns. They then contrast the sharp power strategies of authoritarian governments, such as Russia and China, explaining that China attempts to buttress its global image while Russia seeks to foment social upheaval abroad. Finally, Ms. Ludwig and Mr. Sheives emphasize the relative strengths of democratic nations in projecting global power and offer potential options for countering Chinese sharp power.
Mr. Kevin Sheives is the Associate Director at the International Forum for Democratic Studies at NED. For nearly fifteen years, Mr. Sheives served as a manager and advisor at State Department offices, leading U.S. diplomatic and governmental responses to strategic competition with China, global disinformation, and the Asia-Pacific’s rise, along with assignments elsewhere in Washington at the Defense Department, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and Congress.
Ms. Jessica Ludwig is a Senior Program Officer at the International Forum for Democratic Studies, the research and analytical section of NED. Her research focuses on authoritarian influence in emerging democracies, with a particular interest in China and Russia’s engagement with Latin America. Ms. Ludwig is co-editor of the report, “Sharp Power: Rising Authoritarian Influence”. Her writing has been published in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Global Americans, and the Journal of Democracy.