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Encyclopedia > Comprehensive national power

Comprehensive National Power (CNP) is a concept which is important in the contemporary political thought of the People's Republic of China and refers to the general power of a nation-state. The distinguishing feature of this concept is that unlike most Western concepts of political power, Chinese political thinkers believe that CNP can be calculated numerically and there are a number of indices which combine various quantative indices to create a single number which purports to measure the power of a nation-state. These indices take into account both military factors (known as hard power) and economic and cultural factors (known as soft power). CNP is notable for being an original Chinese political concept with no roots in either contemporary Western political theory, Marxism-Leninism, or pre-20th century Chinese thinking.


There is a general consensus that the United States is the nation with the highest CNP and that mainland China's CNP ranks far behind not only the United States but other Western nations such as Germany, the United Kingdom, and Japan. Although some Western assessments of China suggest that China will be able to match or overtake the United States in the 21st century, the most recent Chinese projections of CNP suggest that this outcome is unlikely.


Within Chinese political thought, the main goal of the Chinese state is to maximize China's CNP. The inclusion of economic factors and soft power measures within most CNP indices is intended to prevent China from making the mistake of the Soviet Union in overinvesting in the military at the expense of the civilian economy.


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