Spheres of Influence - Soft Power Impact of Asia – University of Copenhagen

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Asian Dynamics Initiative > Activities > Podcasts and Powerpoint Presentations > Soft Power Impact of Asia

Spheres of Influence - Soft Power Impact of Asia

On 17 September 2009 the one-year anniversary of Asian Dynamics Initiative was marked with the conference 'Spheres of Influence - Soft Power Impact of Asia' in the Ceremonial Hall of the University of Copenhagen. 

Troels Østergaard Sørensen, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Marie Roesgaard, Chair of the ADI Steering Committee opened the conference.

The Keynote Speakers were:

  • Dr. Meera Nanda, Jawaharlal Nehru University
    'Hindu triumphalism and India's emergence as a global power'

    Hindu spirituality has been a part of India's soft power from the very beginning. Nationalist leaders from the secular-humanist Jawaharlal Nehru to the Hindu nationalist Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo simply assumed without any hesitation that India was a great civilization whose historical destiny was to offer its tolerant and pacific spiritual traditions to the rest of the world. Immediately after the Independence and through the Cold War, India deployed its soft power as the self-appointed World Guru for largely pacific, anti-colonial and internationalist goals.

    With the end of the Cold War and the beginning of the"hot war" against terrorism in the new millennium, there has been a complete turnaround in India's position: Far from remaining non-aligned, India is now firmly aligned with the United States and Israel against "Islamic terrorism," and far from supporting nuclear disarmament, India is fueling a nuclear arms race in South Asia.

    This paper will look at how the earlier discourse of a pacific Hindu spiritualism is undergoing a transformation into Hindu triumphalism which ties India's emergence as a "Superpower" to Hindu revivalism. Hindu spirituality continues to be an important element of India's self-presentation to the rest of the world. But this spirituality is now firmly serves as a weapon in the global "Clash of Civilizations" which pits the supposedly intolerant, violent and "unspiritual" monotheistic religions (both Islam and Christianity) against the supposedly tolerant, non-violent and spiritual monism of Hinduism.

    This talk will focus on the Hindu Right's formulation of Hinduism's supremacy in the supposed clash of civilizations. It will look at how this Hindu triumphalism has become part of the common sense of the mainstream of Indian thinking today, both domestically and in international affairs. The dangers this triumphalism poses for non-Hindu minorities at home will also be looked at. The evidence for growing Islamophobia in the country will be examined.

  • Ambassador Stephen Bosworth,
    Dean of The Fletcher School, Tufts University
    and Special Representative for North Korea Policy
    'Outlook for peace and stability on the Korean peninsula'


    The speaker will briefly examine the history of the two Koreas from the Japanese colonial period to the present. He will describe the multi-faceted and evolving competition between North and South Korea. He will also discuss the origins, rationale, and evolution of the North Korean nuclear weapons program. In addition he will trace the efforts of the last two decades on the part of the United States and other countries in the region to counter/roll back North Korea's nuclear weapons program and to offset the threat that program poses for regional stability and for global nuclear non-proliferation norms and goals. He will examine the specific interests of China, South Korea, Japan, and Russia that are at play in current efforts to bring about the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

  • Professor Cui Zhiyuan, Tsinghua University
    'China's Soft Power and the Global Financial Crisis'


    Right Before the G-20 meeting in London on April 2, 2009, Zhou Xiaochuan, the Governor of the Central Bank of China, published a paper titled "Reforming the International Financial System" in the website of the Bank. Though the People's Daily and the Xinhua News Agency have not picked up Governor Zhou's web-publication for official print, this article is widely discussed by the international financial community and is considered as a major example of China's soft power in the era of global financial crisis. I will argue that there are two main messages of the article which warrant special international attention. The first message is Zhou's implicit response to the charges of Ben Bernanke and Alan Greenspan that China caused the US financial crisis by recycling the current account surplus back into US; the second message is that the so-called "Triffin Dilemma" still exists today, therefore we need to let SDR play a more important role in the international payment system. However, the long term prospect of China's soft power depends on whether its economic and political system can gain more confidence and legitimacy in the eyes of the international community and its own people.

    PowerPoint Presentation

  • Professor Susan Napier, Tufts University
    'Can Japanese soft power save the world? Millennial Japan and its [dis]contents'

    In recent years, the term "soft power", as opposed to the "hard power" of military force, has become popular among academics and in the media. But what does "soft power" really mean and can it really have much effect on contemporary events? This lecture looks at Japan, one of the pre-eminent practioners of soft power in the 21st century, whose global reach extends from "Hello Kitty" to hybrid cars. We will explore both the dark and light sides of Japanese soft power, including such spheres as otaku culture, technological innovation, and artistic production to try and determine what impact the "contents" of Japanese culture has on our current globalized society.

    PowerPoint Presentation