Canada Research Chairs Seminar Series: "China's Quest for "Soft Power": Imperatives, Impediments, and Irreconcilable Tensions?"

Thursday, November 10, 2011
11:30 - 12:30

Dr. Yuezhi Zhao
Canada Research Chair in the Political Economy of Global Communication, School of Communication


From establishing Confucius Institutes all over the world to mounting an advertising blitz in New York's Times Square, the Chinese state's multifaceted endeavour to strengthen its "soft power" has been highly visible and the subject of much recent journalistic and scholarly attention. This talk locates the Chinese state's "soft power" quest within historical and geopolitical contexts and critically examines its profoundly contradictory underpinning political economy and cultural politics. While this campaign's political and moral imperatives appear self-evident, its structural and ideological impediments seem to be insurmountable. Furthermore, there are irreconcilable tensions between the drive to pursue an elitist and cultural essentialist agenda in global communication and the capacity to articulate an alternative political and social vision that has popular appeal in a deeply divided and crises-laden global order.

About the Speaker

Dr. Yuezhi Zhao received her B.A. in Journalism in China and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Communication at Simon Fraser University. She worked as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of California, San Diego between 1997 and 2000, and returned to SFU in 2000. Currently a Tier I Canada Research Chair and the Associate Director of the School of Communication, Dr. Zhao has a broad research interest on media, communication technologies, and democratic governance in North American, Chinese, and global contexts. Her recent books include Communication and Society: Political Economic and Cultural Analysis (in Chinese, 2011); Communication in China: Political Economy, Power, and Conflict (2008), Global Communications (co-edited, 2008), and Democratizing Global Media (co-edited, 2005).