Department or Program

International Relations

Additional Department or Program (if any)

Political Science

Title of Approved Individual Major

International Relations - Political Science

Primary Wellesley Thesis Advisor

Stacie Goddard

Additional Advisor(s)

William Joseph


As the world marveled at China’s rapid growth of economic and military power in the past few decades, China's soft power expansion has received relatively little attention. My research looks at Chinese university programs that have attracted an increasing number of Arab students in recent years, which coincides with China's larger scheme of soft power projection in the MENA region. Through quantitative analysis of an original survey and interviews with Arab students in China, I attempt to examine whether Chinese university programs can effectively enhance China's soft power in the Arab World. My research finds that studying in China can lead to more favorable feelings toward China among Arab students as a result of increased familiarity and understanding of Chinese language, culture, society, and people. However, this positive change of impression has little to do with the length of time students spend studying in China. Their academic experience in Chinese universities does not seem to contribute significantly to this change either.