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'Discourse Power: How China Gains Global Support for Its Vision of Cyber Order' with CWP fellow Rachel Hulvey

October 28, 2024
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS BUILDING AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY - 420 W. 118TH ST., NEW YORK, NY 10027 ROOM 918

How does China influence international order and when are China’s efforts successful? China develops a new strategy, international discourse power, focused on the use of narratives. Using international discourse power, China seeks to gain global influence by crafting compelling messages. Through interviews with China’s foreign policy experts, I describe the concept of international discourse power and explain how the Chinese Communist Party uses it to mobilize support and gain followers for China’s global leadership. Central to the strategy are narratives about international order. To observe the impact of China’s strategy, I focus on the development of order in cyberspace, an inchoate space where global rules are under development. Central to China’s discourse power in cyberspace is the message of cyber sovereignty. By employing a mixed methods approach to analyze the development of order in cyberspace, I find support for the argument that discourse is a source of power that allows China to mobilize support for changes in the status quo. This research flips the analytical lens from describing whether China will be motivated to shape international order to tracing the impact China has in a space where it is highly motivated to impact global governance. The focus on China’s use of rhetoric demonstrates the power of narratives in building and shaping international order. 

Bio: Rachel Ann Hulvey is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia-Harvard China and the World and the Harvard Belfer International Security programs. In 2024, she graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a doctoral degree in Political Science. In the fall of 2025, she will be an Assistant Professor at Indiana University at the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies. Her research focuses on China’s influence on international order with an empirical focus on cyberspace. She has held fellowships as a Schmidt Futures International Strategy Forum Fellow (2022-2023) and the Hans J. Morgenthau Program at the Notre Dame International Security Center (2024-2025). Most recently, she was a visiting fellow at the Tsinghua Center for International Security and Strategy in Beijing and at Fudan University in Shanghai, China.


This event is a hybrid with both in-person attendees and an online audience. It is sponsored by the China and the World Program and co-sponsored by the Weatherhead East Asian Institute.

To register for the event online please register here or https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_OFW1JS46T3-APLvZEXs-zA 

If you are attending in-person, please go to: INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS BUILDING AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY - 420 W. 118TH ST., NEW YORK, NY 10027 ROOM 918 

Rachel Hulvey