Along with the development of China’s economic and military power, China is perceived by its competitors as a threat to the international system. In order to have a “peaceful rise” and to project a benign national image to the world, China began taking a series of actions to market itself. The Confucius Institute project is one of the public diplomacy actions in education in response to Beijing’s “peaceful rise” slogan.
The Confucius Institutes are non-profit public institutions affiliated with the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China whose stated aimsare to promote Chinese language and culture, support local Chinese teaching internationally, and facilitate cultural exchanges.The increasing number of Confucius Institutes has received world-wide attention. This phenomenon has also precipitated an important debate in America on Chinese’s soft-poweragenda. According to Joseph Nye, the founding father of “Soft-Power Theory,” soft-power is the power of attraction without coercion. Nonetheless, results from this study suggest that the Confucius Institutes create mutually beneficialconsequences for both China and America, andtend to promote educational opportunities and social justice in America.
This multiple case study is comprised of data from four of the Confucius Institutes in different geographiclocations in America (one from the Southwest, one from the Northwest, one from the East Coast, and the other one from the Midwest). Further data were also collected onother Confucius Institutes in the United States. Through document analysis, informal interviews, participant-observation, and semi-structured interviews, I primarily focused on the perceptions and beliefs from key personnel based in America, who set up and/or work for the Confucius Institutes in America.