“Soft power put to the test”, Raquel Jorge-Ricart (Elcano, Spain)

Just a few weeks ago, China’s president, Xi Jinping, called for a more “loveable” image for China during the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference which was held at the beginning of June Xi Jinping aims to revamp its country’s image, and “expand its circle of friends”. Chinese president told senior Communist Party officials the country must work towards an image of a “credible, loveable and respectable” China.

This is not fortuitous. In 2020, in the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak, 48% of Europeans had a worse image on China than before. Only 12% of Europeans had improved their view on China, according to a European Council on Foreign Relations’ survey. However, this is not circumstantial –the pandemic has structural, systemic consequences for our societies. China’s government has previously faced reputation crises, derived from increasingly international criticism vis-à-vis activism and pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, or the Uyghur situation in Xinjiang.

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