Softpower, Soccer, Supremacy
The Chinese Dream
Table Of Contents
- Advance Praise
- About the author
- About the book
- This eBook can be cited
- Table of Contents
- Xi’s Chinese Dream: “Rice and Pitches” (米饭和球场)—Imperial Strategy (J.A. Mangan)
- Part 1: Chinese Perspectives
- 1 China, Politics and Soccer: The Era of the Cultural Revolution—The Immediate and Eventual Consequences for “The Chinese Dream” (Li Jinning and Keiko Ikeda)
- 2 Chinese Sports Diplomacy: Intentions, Innovations, and Impediments—The Background to the BRI and BRICS Initiatives (Jiahao Hu)
- 3 Building a Successful Superhighway: Soccer Revolution and the Realization of the Chinese Dream—An Overview (Tobias Zuser)
- 4 Dreams: The Pursuit of Consensus and the Display of National Power— (Emma Lupano)
- 5 Positive Projection: Soccer and Xi’s Softpower Strategy— (Leah (Xiufang) Li)
- 6 “The Chinese Dream”: Neglected Dimension—Who Is Chinese? Multi-Ethnic Soccer Representation (Tobias Zuser and Lawrence Ka-ki Ho)
- 7 Crossing the Penalty Area? The Dynamics of Chinese/Taiwanese Football (Tzu-hsuan Chen and Alan Bairner)
- 8 Dreams, Desires, and Destiny: Football and Fantasies in China (John Connell)
- Part 2: Korean Perspectives
- 9 Failed Diplomatic Tool: Soccer—An Evolving Soft Power Relationship between China and Korea (Jong-sung Lee)
- 10 From Chinese Neurosis to South Korean Nightmare: (Kyoungho Park and Gwang Ok)
- 11 Sport as a Nation Branding Tool in Divided Korea: Soccer, Status, and Softpower (Udo Merkel)
- Part 3: Japanese Perspectives
- 12 Japan and China: Overview—Leagues and Clubs (Christian Tagsold and Sato Ryohei)
- 13 Meeting Xi’s Ambitions with a Critical Eye: Japan’s Reaction to China’s Football Dreams—A “Further Caveat” (Christian Tagsold)
- 14 “The Guiding Light for the Sport in Japan!”—Middlesex Wanderers and the Development of Football in Japan, 1967–2017: Regional Domination? An Anglo-Saxon Heritage of Supremacy to be Respected and Retained? (Colm Hickey)
- Part 4: Australian Perspectives
- 15 The China Question and Soccer in Australia (David Rowe, Keith Parry and Bonnie Pang)
- 16 Blinded by the Light! Hard Ball Disguised as Soccer: Interpreting China’s Football Dream—An Australian’s Reflection (Peter Horton)
- 17 Will Xi Jinping’s China Soccer Dream Become Australia’s Football Nightmare? (Steve Georgakis and Andy Harper)
- Eastern Promise: Soccer: A Tilting Global Axis—From West to East: A Sanguine If Suspect Rotation? (J.A. Mangan)
- Series index
2 Jiahao Hu: “Chinese Sports Diplomacy: Intentions, Innovations, and Impediments—The Background to the BRI and BRICS Initiatives”
Table 1: BRI-oriented Sports Events in 2015–2017
3 Tobias Zuser: “Building a Successful Superhighway: Soccer Revolution and the Realization of the Chinese Dream—An Overview”
Table 1: League sponsorship in China’s professional Jia-A League (1994–2003)
Table 2: League sponsorship in China’s professional Chinese Super League (2004–2022)
Table 3: Financial overview of CSL (2016)—in RMB
Table 4: Financial Overview of CL1 (2016)
Table 5: Expenditure structure of CSL clubs
Table 6: Expenditures structure of CL1 clubs
Table 7: Revenue structure of CSL clubs
Table 8: Revenue structure of CL1 clubs
Table 9: Overview of soccer specific stadiums in China
4 Emma Lupano: “Dreams: The Pursuit of Consensus and the Display of National Power—Chinese Soccer Softpower Narratives”
Table 1: Programme: Recurring Frames and Related Keywords
Table 2: Suning-FC Internazionale: recurring frames and related keywords←xi | xii→
6 Tobias Zuser and Lawrence Ka-ki Ho: “ ‘The Chinese Dream’: Neglected Dimension—Who Is Chinese? Multi-Ethnic Soccer Representation”
Table 1: Professional Chinese soccer players of ethnic descent (selection)
Table 2: List of active Uyghur players in the Chinese Super League (2018)
Table 3: Players in CSL and CL1 according to place of birth (2018)
12 Christian Tagsold and Sato Ryohei: “Japan and China: Overview—Leagues and Clubs”
Table 1: Foreign stars in the J.League during the 1990s
Table 2: Recent foreign stars joining J.League clubs
Table 3: Foreign stars in the CSL
14 Colm Hickey: “ ‘The Guiding Light for the sport in Japan!’—Middlesex Wanderers and the development of football in Japan, 1967–2017: Regional Domination? An Anglo-Saxon Heritage of Supremacy to be Respected and Retained?”
Appendix 1: Japan v China International Football Results 1917–2017←xii | xiii→
A Serendipitous Situation: Serendipity: the faculty of making fortunate discoveries
First and foremost I have been fortunate; put simply to have Peter Horton as Collating Editor; we earlier co-edited with Ren Tianwei, Japanese Imperialism: Politics and Sport in East Asia: Rejection, Resentment and Revanchism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). Once more I am indebted to him for his punctilious editorial input. I also wish to thank Ren Tianwei for her generous informal involvement in publication arrangements. Christian Tagsold, has been an invaluable co-editor and also deserves thanks for his involvement. I should also like to pay tribute to the contributors to Softpower, Soccer, Supremacy for their perceptive chapters. Finally, I wish to express my pleasure to be working with a new publisher (for me) Peter Lang Inc. Ours has been a most a productive publishing relationship. I look forward greatly to working with Peter Lang as General Editor of the new Lang series: Sport in East and Southeast Asian Societies. Their appreciation of the significance of modern sport—to adapt the striking words of Anthony B. Smith—that “swirling melodic” of nationalistic, contemporary modernity and its role as a harbinger of the geopolitical, political, cultural and social rise of modern East Asian societies is to be applauded. It should never be forgotten that sport in the modern world is metaphorically a well-oiled doorknob that when turned can open a door smoothly, and revealingly, to driven forces of existentialism, even xenophobic, regional nationalism.
Emeritus Professor J.A. Mangan,
England.←xiii | xiv→←xiv | xv→
1 Montaigne’s Essays quoted in Tripp, Rhoda, Thomas (compiler), The International Thesaurus of Quotations, New York, Crowell, 1970, 264 (9).
Xi’s Chinese Dream: “Rice and Pitches” (米饭和球场)—Imperial Strategy
Power, History, and Dominance
… power at its core is not a material but a psychological force. It represents the vital desire of individuals or communities to prevail, to impose change on others while remaining unchanged, to dominate rather than be dominated, whether by violence or by the subtler arts of peace and always in the compelling contests of invidious comparisons. Viewed in this manner, power is foremost a concern of human consciousness: … All analyses of power—or all power-orientated studies of history—must therefore begin with human perception (culturally conditioned perception, to be sure). The material aspects of power originates in the mind, in human ingenuity, in the desire to be less vulnerable.1
Mega-Events, Metonyms, and Metamorphosis
A modern equation: money equals modern mega events. The West gets poorer [relatively]; the East gets richer (relatively). Tokyo 1964, Seoul 1988, Beijing 2008 are metonyms for Asian economic metamorphosis. … the world has witnessed a shift in its geo-political axis—from West to East. Asian ‘Otherness’ has been redefined; the mantra is no longer faded esoteric Asian promise but blooming modernistic Asian achievement. Asia is no longer the object of the complacent, but rather the apprehensive, Western gaze. Tokyo 1964, Seoul 1988, and above all, Beijing 2008 are metaphors for a deeper and wider modernity.2
Reorientation, Realignment, and Readjustment
What we are seeing … is a geopolitical shift of huge geopolitical proportions.
So lost is the West in its bubble of self-deprecating fantasy that the hegemony it so long exercised over the rest of the world is passing to the world outside it, to India and China …3
Chekhovian and Emersonian Ambitions
Chekhov’s words have immediate relevance to a present compulsive Chinese Dream. Perhaps they should adorn the outer façade of the impressive People’s Palace in Beijing!
We should see life neither as it is nor as it ought to be but as we see it in our dreams.4
Xi Jinping personifies this Dream. As the appointed Chinese President for life, he clearly has shaped his political life as he has seen it in his dreams. His recent elevation to Chinese “Emperor for Life” has been summarized by the Chinese journalist Li Datong “as personal elevation into the emperor system, Mao’s emperor system:”5 spero meliora. When Xi Jinping muses on his modernistic, possibly chimerical dream for Chinese soccer, his self-appointed “imperial” role in this Dream, and indulges in his futuristic reveries on the matter, does he travel back in time in his thoughts and seek inspiration from Imperial Rome? Is he inspired by the Roman imperial concept of “spectacle” used by a succession of Roman Emperors as a calculated means of keeping the people preoccupied, distracted and enraptured? Of course, in Xi Jinping’s case this spectacle comprises a bloodless conquest on football fields rather than gory triumphs on sanded arenas. Is he perhaps Emersonian? “Judge your national character by what you do in (emphasis added) your dreams.”6 It is appropriate here, in the wake of the rise of a new Chinese “Emperor” and his populist soccer ambitions to reflect briefly on the Roman imperial use of “spectacle” and its striking similarity to Xi’s use of soccer as an “imperial symbolic” spectacle. It should never be overlooked that we are symbols and ‘inhabit’ symbols in all we do.7
An Appropriate Historical Analogy: Ancient Rome?
Roland Auguet in Cruelty and Civilisation: The Roman Games,8 has a chapter pointedly entitled, “A Civilisation Based on the Games”. In it, he comments,
The great spectacles of Ancient Rome were not merely casual entertainment … Under the Empire, the games became a public opiate and gave the daily life of Rome its rhythm and lustre. From one year to the next, the Roman citizens lived in anticipation of the games; they provided excitement and helped the citizens forget … their lack of political power.9←xviii | xix→
In Imperial Rome, Auguet argues, “spectacles” constituted a carefully composed, elaborate and expensive political soporific: a mass analgesic. In time, “all emperors understood the power and appeal of spectacles.”10 As such, spectacles were called upon “to play the essential role in public life”.11 The Roman Empire turned spectacles into a well-tuned instrument of indirect domination, clearly defined by Juvenal in his memorable phrase, “panem et circenses” (bread and circuses).12 This idea has travelled down the centuries and recently arrived in Xi’s China.
Roman emperors fully appreciated that it was not simply enough to provide the “Games”, it was necessary to endorse them, to promote them, to be seen at them.13 Auguet remarks that even the most conservative of Roman emperors, Augustus, in his will,
… did not fail to enumerate, alongside the reforms which he had effected, the games with which he had gratified the people, either in his own name or in the names of those close to him. We know from Suetonius that he made a point of attending the games, and of doing nothing there apart from watching the spectacle, since he had noticed that the people had taken it ill that Caesar used to dispatch his business in the arena and even profit from this moment of relaxation to write letters.14
Auguet further notes that even this “sanest of the emperors” stretched this concern with the Games to the point of sycophancy! Auguet argues, in passing, that the popularity Nero enjoyed after his death ‘can only be explained by his taste for the spectacles and his eagerness to provide them.’15 He would do his utmost, Auguet informs us, to be “one with the people”.16 Juvenal, suggests Auguet, went to the heart of the matter:
the excellence of a government is shown no less by its concern for pastimes than by its concern for serious matters, negligence being, it is true, far more prejudicial in the latter, but creating far more dissatisfaction in the former: that the people are, all in all, less avid for money than for spectacles; and that though distributions of corn and foodstuffs are enough to satisfy men as individuals, spectacles are needed to satisfy the people as a whole.17
Auguet ponders interestingly on Juvenal’s words,
Let us note first that this analysis quite clearly shows the communal and specific character of this need. We have seen that at the amphitheatre or at the circus, the pleasure experienced by the crowd was not limited simply to the games; it arose also from an obscure narcissism to which the consciousness of oneself as a Roman was not irrelevant.18
In the specific context of this Prologue—for “Roman” read “Chinese!”←xix | xx→
Xi Jinping’s “football revolution:” constitutes an un-equalled political investment in the so-called beautiful game. Soccer is now a Chinese allegory for a Populist Renaissance: an igneous softpower19 eruption of volcanic luminosity intended to coruscate initially regionally and ultimately internationally. Xi’s “imperial” ambition is Suleimanesque in desire, if not yet, in deed! Is it impartible to some one and a half billion Chinese? Certainly, they have feasted on the delicious dish of recent Olympic success—and now perhaps are greedy for more seconds?
Softpower: A Relevant and Retained Concept
Joseph Nye summarized “Softpower”20 famously as follows:
Soft power is the ability to affect others to obtain the outcomes one wants through attraction rather than coercion or payment. A country’s soft power rests on its resources of culture, values, and policies. A smart power strategy combines hard and soft power resources. Public diplomacy has a long history as a means of promoting a country’s soft power and was essential in winning the cold war. The current struggle against transnational terrorism is a struggle to win hearts and minds, and the current overreliance on hard power alone is not the path to success. Public diplomacy is an important tool in the arsenal of smart power, but smart public diplomacy requires an understanding of the roles of credibility, self-criticism, and civil society in generating soft power.21
He then elaborated, equally famously, as follows, “Soft power co-opts rather than coerces people. [It] is not merely the power of persuasion or argument … it is also the power to entice and attract.”22 Nye, equally famously, then distinguished between power measured in behavioural outcomes and power measured as resource potentialities in order to make clear the relationship between softpower and public diplomacy. The latter utilizes media exchanges and cultural exports.
Without global appeal, Nye stresses, softpower appeal is reduced. In this regard, he argues, softpower must be able to inspire dreams—and desires. It is thus, he asserts, an important reality and he remarks scathingly that “self-styled realists” who deny the importance of softpower are like those who fail to comprehend the power of seduction.23 He then asserts dismissively that such people succumb to the “concrete foolishness” that something is not a power resource “unless it can be dropped on a city …”24 Nye is at pains to emphasize that a nation’s softpower,←xx | xxi→
… rests primarily on three resources: its culture (in places where it is attractive to others), its political values (where it lives up to them at home and abroad), and its foreign policies (where they are seen as legitimate and having moral authority).25
This observation is of significant relevance to The Chinese Dream. This relevance will be discussed shortly. Nye also remarks soberingly that nations cannot simply translate cultural resources into softpower attractions. The effectiveness of public diplomacy is measured by minds changed not slick production packages.26 He bluntly alerts his readership to the new dictates of modernity “… Under the new conditions of the information age, more than ever, the soft sell may prove more effective than the hard sell.”27 Nye ends his famous polemic with the solemn caveat that, “smart public diplomacy requires an understanding of the role of credibility, self-criticism and the role of civil society.”28 In the generation of effective softpower, he warns, “diplomacy that degenerates into propaganda can not only fail but can reduce the power of its transmission.”29
In the Chinese Dream the blatantly aggressive thrust of Chinese softpower diplomacy on the part of Xi Jinping, it is argued here, is unexpectedly and usually unsubtle. Furthermore, if Xi Jinping fails in his inspiriting elevation of China to the pinnacle of the global soccer mountain what impact will his naked act of sport’s timidity have on the global political image of Xi Jinping himself—at home and abroad? It is surely no exaggeration to state that soccer ambition in modern China thrust upwards so propulsively by Xi, a geopolitical figuration, could go into an international tailspin with corresponding humiliation for both President and Nation. To employ a sporting metaphor of embarrassing relevance, could China “drop the baton” in its eagerness to win the race for global soccer supremacy? Perhaps! However, China’s astounding recent success in space could be a portentous harbinger for future astounding soccer success on earth. The world watches with keen interest.
To return to Nye. He has his critics. Nevertheless, he has provided reflections of analytical value, and stimulated a provocative debate on the concept of softpower. Jonathan Grix and Paul Brannagan, in particular, have offered nuanced reflections on Nye’s work. In their discussion of softpower, they remind academics (and others) that,
However, within mainstream International Relations, Political Science, and Sport Studies literature, a continuous debate remains as to what actually constitutes soft power, how national leaders go about acquiring it, and how forms of attraction convert into power outcomes in both the short- and long-term.30←xxi | xxii→
They suggest that their own analysis, de facto, “moves beyond a discussion of Nye’s concept of ‘soft power’ towards an ‘ideal type’ of a state’s soft power strategy that can be used in future empirical research—sporting, diplomatic, and otherwise.”31 They maintain confidently that one problem—a major one—with Nye’s thoughts on softpower, and indeed, a great deal of the academic discussion it has inspired, is that concepts are slippery, and theories are opaque. The result, they suggest, is that their use in “actual research” is difficult! In consequence, they utilize their own empirical studies to construct an “ideal type” for use by researchers in order to understand the particular components of the softpower strategies of modern states.32 Sensibly they are not dismissive of Nye’s concept of softpower pointing out that:
The significance of the concept is demonstrated most evidently through the increasing number of academics, politicians and governmental authorities, private institutions and agencies, and journalists and blog writers that have attempted to apply, adapt, and/or measure soft power in their discussions of state-led policies.33
Among those Grix and Brannagan include in this exhaustive list is Xi Jinping, who in his address to the Communist Party in Beijing in 2014, stressed the importance of extending China’s softpower reach and, as a crucial corollary, the associated need to communicate China’s political message to the world.34 Academics, note Grix and Brannagan, have pointed out that China is mounting a softpower offensive via its Confucius Institutes, involvement in United Nation’s peace keeping missions, a variety of humanitarian efforts and its international media outlets—including China Television and Xinhua News Agency.35 China, they sensibly stress, is far from alone in its dramatic softpower international efforts and ambitions. They draw attention in this regard to India and Brazil and Turkey.36 Interestingly, all now have increasing contact with China. They maintain that in sports studies literature the most notable nationalistic studies cover Germany hosting the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Beijing staging of the 2008 Olympic Games, the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, the London 2012 Olympics, Brazil’s “double hosting” of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games, Sochi’s delivery of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games and Qatar’s acquisition of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.37 The prevalent view in all these studies, they assert, is that hosting a Sports-Mega Event leads directly to enhanced softpower, results in the increased interest in a nation’s cultural and political values, an improved “brand image” and the flagging up of an emerging status as a major international actor on the world stage! Impressive claims! Their conclusion: sport is a highly relevant diplomatic tool.38←xxii | xxiii→
As mentioned above, they are critical of Nye’s analysis of softpower and consider his analysis has a major weakness: he fails to consider adequately how far states achieve their pursuit of the politics of attraction and to what measurable extent this is realised. Criticism of Nye by various commentators, they argue, while profound and substantial, are only partially accurate and are incomplete,
First, many have raised concerns over what soft power actually is, and, more specifically, whether it is merely another buzzword for conceptualising that of nation branding and/or place marketing. Second, many have suggested that Nye fails to deliver a clear description of how one actually acquires “soft power” or forms of attraction, leading to a highly confusing and problematic concept with which to work. Third, due to Nye’s reliance on discussions of the West, many equate soft power as being either too structural or Western-centric. Finally, some have argued for greater academic attention to identifying and highlighting the potential pitfalls for any state that attempts to acquire soft power forms.39
Grix and Brannagan, however, absolve Nye with regards to the first concern. They state categorically that “Nye has been at pains to make it clear that softpower is not a synonym for place marketing/nation branding, it is not simply the ability to persuade but the ability to entice and attract acquiescence and imitation.”40 For their part, they argue that, “soft power aligns itself more to public diplomacy than nation building and for place marketing.”41 (And it might be added here pointedly, geopolitical projection). Furthermore, they make the important point that softpower influence demands continuous communication on an equal footing with foreign audiences and involves both listening and communicating!42 At this point in their reflections, nevertheless, Grix and Brannagan lose patience with Nye. In their judgement, “he fails to offer much in the way of a solution to the remaining three criticisms levelled at him.”43 Their analysis, they maintain confidently, “addresses these lacunae”, and in two ways by:
setting out tangible areas in which states acquire soft power; offering empirical examples of real-life cases to show what soft power acquisition looks like in practice; and using a non-Western case study to illustrate that soft power transcends geographical localities. To this end, therefore, the focus is on presenting an ‘ideal type’ that goes some way to identifying how states actually go about acquiring soft power forms, the mechanisms involved, and how these converts into long-term outcomes.44
Their “ideal type” offers two illustrative empirical examples: Germany and Qatar drawing on their own empirical inquiries, while in addition, they claim they,←xxiii | xxiv→
… generated knowledge as part of a multi-state research project on the leveraging strategies adopted by countries hosting mega-events in an attempt to produce tangible “legacies”, including amongst others, highlighting their nation, improving their national image, and putting themselves on the international map.45
Their ultimate aim, they insist, is, “to produce a [softpower] tool … (that)… policy-makers can use and adapt employing a variety of softpower strategies.”46 They claim that the advantage of the softpower approach of their analysis lies in their attempt to spell out softpower resources which then allow researchers and policy-makers to consider “the potential gains and drawbacks of strategies designed to win over opinion abroad and make states more attractive to others.”47 Such an ideal type is certainly useful as a starting point in understanding how and why states seek to influence others using inter alia sport diplomacy.
Finally, Grix and Brannagan state positively that debates “on and around the empirical aspects of ‘softpower’ are to be encouraged.” It is hoped that their analysis persuades academics of the value of studying sport diplomacy in this regard. In summary, Grix and Brannagan have made a positive contribution in “… Of Mechanisms and Myths …” an important chapter on the issue of softpower that points the way to a route for future analytical travellers. They are to be applauded.
Coda: A Fuller Context
It is now time for a wider vision beyond but embracing sports diplomacy and to see the pursuit of softpower in a fuller political and geographical context. It is a weary truism that much of the modern world is the outcome of past empires and an equally weary truism that the future world will see newly fashioned empires with newly bristled “brooms” sweeping away dismissively recent empires, but importantly not forgetting them and possibly their both malign and benign influences. To reprise unapologetically here this appropriate apothegm, “… The past is a foreign country” but to adapt it as follows in the case of East Asia, “… The past is a present country.” The reason is straight-forward, animosities survive; ambitions exacerbate them. Inter alia China’s “Blue Water Power” designs, China’s retributive desire “to make Japan tremble”, China’s coded messages to Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines to “know their place” and South Korean intense “Grandmother Memories” coupled with a general regional belief that Japan has never fully acknowledged its brutal imperial past infuse present regional relations, while simultaneously Beijing has sent a symbolic 2008 message to the region and the world of the re-emergence of “The Middle Kingdom”, the projection ←xxiv | xxv→of China Ascendant, the declaration of a Chinese Renaissance involving an intention to advance via China the eventual East Asian dominance of world sport—arguably the ultimate “softpower” symbol of global superiority! This symbol will include a modern talisman—soccer with its Chinese presidential perception of the nation clothed in a “metaphorical mantle” of softpower “puissance!”
Power is essentially a psychological force. Its fundamental objective is to compel change in others while remaining unchanged yourself. Its purpose is to dominate rather than be dominated. Softpower is a self-evident component of power, and sport, and especially soccer, is now a widely used instrument of softpower projection.
Finale: Extra-terrestrial Softpower! A Hallucinogenic Vision?
The Next Step!
It can be stated, reasonably it is argued here that on one level space power is about softpower. Reaching the dark side of the moon is a manifestation of, and a symbol, of China’s extra-terrestrial softpower projection.
Soccer too is all about softpower! And it is clearly a personal long-standing presidential desideratum intended in time to become a nationalistic emblem of dominance. Perhaps, ironically, it will prove to be an East Asian imperial climacteric! Stretch the imagination—here is an eventual Chinese lunar gesture—soccer pitches on the moon as part of an extended extra-terrestrial Chinese Empire—or at the very least, initially, a Chinese spaceman (or woman) on the moon clutching a soccer ball made in China; a refractometer of a soaring (literally and figuratively) Chinese “neo-imperial” ambition. Far-fetched, feverish and hallucinatory? Time will tell!
Landmarks and Signposts (and Goalposts!)
The circumstances are in a great measure new … We have hardly any landmarks to guide us.48
- XXX, 396
- ISBN (PDF)
- ISBN (ePUB)
- ISBN (MOBI)
- ISBN (Hardcover)
- Publication date
- 2020 (April)
- New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2020. XXX, 396 pp., 19 tables