Chinese President Hu Jintao's(胡錦濤) report at the 17th Party Congress on Oct. 15 notably included attempts at applying "soft power." Hu avoided threatening language toward Taiwan, offering instead a peace agreement and expanded ties.
Although the gesture will not soon transform the security situation across the Taiwan Strait, the case is revealing about the importance and limitations of soft power.
China's reserves of soft power have grown as a result of its impressive economic development.
Trade relations have expanded such that Chinese manufactured goods fill homes around the globe and Chinese culture is increasingly popular abroad. But China's recent soft power initiatives have produced few results. Despite the fact that China has considerable soft power potential, its ability to project soft power is hindered by its own political system.
Whereas Taiwan's democracy allows its people to be open to China's overtures, China's lack of democracy inhibits its attractive power vis-a-vis Taiwan. It is clear that China's use of soft power in cross-strait relations will not work.