The Influence Of Soft Power In Africa

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Asian presence has been radically increasing in Africa in the past two decades. As Chinese advancement into Africa has become more active and visible to the rest of the world since 2000, Asian soft power as an alternative of the traditional hegemonic Western power over Africa has become more noticeable. Through placement of soft power, major East Asian countries including China, Japan and South Korea are growing their influence on economic and diplomatic activities in the African continent. Numerous topics regarding “China in Africa” followed by the subject of “Japan in Africa” have been subject to discourse and research in academia and journalism. However, “South Korea in Africa” is emerging as a new subject.

Korea brings a new perspective into Asian-African relations with its abundant soft-power potential. Although there is skepticism towards Korean influence in Africa due to its relatively small domain of hard military power in comparison with China and Japan, Korea’s distinctive soft power strategies in Africa is expected to impact dynamics of Asian soft power and Africa. Examining how Korea utilizes its soft power in comparison with the existing soft power holders such as China and Japan will help understand the further development potentials, limits, and possible suggestions to promoting East Asian soft power in a way that would lead to a more positive outcome both in Asia and Africa.

Soft power refers to a form of national power that is based on ideational and cultural attractiveness, utilized by actors in international relations to achieve strategic imperatives. The concept of soft power was first introduced in the late twentieth century by Joseph Nye in his book, “Bound to Lead”.

Joseph Nye defined the idea of soft p...

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...exists no clear definition of the term which clearly distinguishes it from hard power. Therefore, it may be difficult for countries to set an optimum balance between hard soft power to enhance their influence in Africa.

21st century is an era of soft power which rests on culture, values, knowledge, technology and science. East Asia including Japan, China, and Korea adopted soft power to promoting their relationship with African nations. Each of these countries is competing to bolster their national images through soft power. However, there exists limits to soft power strategies and it seems for further development of Asia-Africa relations, it is important to find and expand areas of cooperation where China, Japan and Korea could work together to promote regionalism and more ideally, a regional community of both Asia and Africa to benefit from their relationship.
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