Recently, China developed its influence through its Confucius Institutes and some propaganda to demonstrate China’s growth. Although China influences other countries through its culture, in Nye’s view it is a not only soft power, but also constitutes sharp power because of its aggressiveness. Soft power relies on a country’s values and cultures, but it is not enough according to the realist perspective, which suggests that a country still needs to add different forms of hard power to extend its influence, and that combination is called smart power. In the following paragraphs, I will discuss what is soft power and what is hard power, and how Taiwan can use our advantages to become more involved in the international community. 

Soft power, as Nye said, is the power to affect other countries by attraction rather than coercion. By soft power, a powerful country can build a benign impression, make other countries accept its thoughts, and facilitate coalition building. We usually think of the US as a benign hegemon because we get this information from some movies or TV series. Hollywood is the most famous example. In some movies like Captain America, the US always fights for justice, and those autocratic countries consistently carry an evil impression. These movies will affect our thoughts with the entertainment, and push us to stand with the US automatically.

The other is hard power. Traditionally, powerful countries use this type of power, which typically describes more forceful tools such as military power, to compel or threaten other countries to follow their rules. However, nowadays starting a war is illegal under international law, and more often using technological power or nuclear missiles as a threat to force some countries to comply is what still exists. After the pandemic, now microchips are important for countries to revive their economies or develop their technology. Taiwan is one of the most important countries to produce chips, which is our hard power in this era. Through this advantage, we get the floor to speak to other powerful countries and survive under the tremendous threat from mainland China. 

Taiwan has soft power and hard power at the same time now, which means we have the advantages to build our smart strategy. Through “stable diplomacy,” we’ve built/created some student exchange programs to attract South East Asian students, and let them experience Taiwanese culture and civil society. Those students will bring wonderful memories back, and help Taiwan in the future because of their understanding of Taiwan’s values. This may lead to This is how soft power works. Furthermore, when the pandemic started, we sent masks to the countries that needed help, and also cooperated with some democratic countries against autocracy, such as building the supply chain of chips to help decouple from the  the China-centric supply chain. 

To sum up, by sharing the same values and attracting people with our unique culture, Taiwan can play a role as an important actor and help other countries in the international area. 

Written by Eddie C.

Edited by Ari B.