East Asia Watch: China's tough talk threatens to thwart soft power drive

Push to win friends, influence other nations not yielding results, given efforts put in

BEIJING • On Nov 14, just hours before a talk featuring youth activists was to take place on Columbia University's campus in New York City, university administrators abruptly pulled it, citing security concerns after a Chinese student group threatened to stage a protest at the venue.

The discussion was to have been on China's human rights violations in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong - all touchy topics that the Chinese authorities already control the narrative of domestically and have increasingly little tolerance for outside its borders.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 26, 2019, with the headline 'China's tough talk threatens to thwart soft power drive'. Subscribe