Beijing says allegations of influencing others' politics are part of Western efforts to 'smear' China

Wang Guoqing, spokesman for the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, speaks at a press conference a day before the opening session of the advisory body in Beijing on March 2, 2018.
Wang Guoqing, spokesman for the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, speaks at a press conference a day before the opening session of the advisory body in Beijing on March 2, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING - The spokesman of China's top political advisory body on Friday (Mar 2) rebutted allegations that the country had been exercising "sharp power" to influence the political affairs of other countries, calling this an effort by the West to "smear" China.

Responding to a question on the matter at a press conference ahead of the annual meeting of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) on Saturday (Mar 3), its spokesman Wang Guoqing drew a comparison to similar efforts by Western countries.

"Even though we are talking about exactly the same thing, for Western countries, they are showcasing soft power or smart power. But when it comes to China, it's sharp power or ulterior motives," he said, adding that this illustrated the prejudice, discrimination and hostility toward the rising Asian power.

Sharp power refers to the combination of traditional soft power, with more coercive tools such as trade and cyber piracy. China has been accused of exercising this influence to compel other countries to submit to its will.

On Friday (Mar 2), Mr Wang said that as China grows in strength, it will intensify its efforts to project its image, but this was so the world could get a "comprehensive" understanding of the country.

"In the past we could not make ourselves heard, now we are capable of making our voice heard far and wide," he said.

During the press conference, Mr Wang also responded to a question on China's plan for diplomacy with Japan, saying Sino-Japanese relations needed to be managed well, as they had consequences not just for the two countries, but for the world. He pointed out that both countries were close neighbours, major East Asian countries and major world economies.

There have been positive signs in the bilateral relationship recently, and Mr Wang hopes both sides will seize this opportunity to boost ties further.

In January, Japanese foreign minister Taro Kono visited Beijing, the first such visit in almost two years, and both sides have also agreed to steadily promote reciprocal visits by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Mr Wang said the crux of the turbulent nature of the bilateral relationship was because of "the flip-flop nature of the Japanese government to historical issues", and a narrow-minded view of China as a strategic rival.

"A country that attempts to forget the past and not face their history cannot win respect, and the country that views its neighbour as a strategic rival is doomed to lose its future," he said.