China is promoting soft power as it seeks to establish itself as a major player in world affairs (Rui 2010). Soft power promotion is directly related with the expansion of political, economic and cultural power and vice versa. China employs education as one of the major tools for its soft power promotion. Besides teaching Chinese language and culture abroad, China is providing scholarships to thousands of students from throughout the world to study in Chinese Universities, annually. Foreign students in Chinese Universities are taught a myriad of Chinese culture and language during their stay in China, besides awarding academic certifications.

A substantial number of Nepali students are also granted Chinese scholarships in various subjects and faculties under various programs, annually. The number of Chinese scholarships is increasing year-by-year for Nepali students after the Nepal government signed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Project in 2017.

Not only because Nepal is a close neighbouring country, but also because of its geopolitical significance, China has always been emphasising on the strong ties with Nepal. Its insistence on expansion of soft power in Nepal itself is a part of its initiative to extend political, economic and cultural influence globally.

Joseph S. Nye, Jr (2004) asserts Soft Power as ‘an ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payment…getting others to want the outcomes that you want.’ As a means of implementing soft power, teaching Chinese culture to Nepali students studying in China consequently influence political, economic and social understandings of China in Nepal ‘without coercion and payment.’

Researches have been done on China employing education as a means to expand its soft power globally. Rui (2010) has studied the Confucius Institutes (CIs) as the means of Chinese soft power and internationalisation of Chinese education. Gauttam et al. (2021) studied the engagement of Chinese soft power in Nepal’s education system. Upadhyay (2023) analysed how China has employed education as a part of its neighbour diplomacy and how China as an educational hub is surpassing other traditional education hubs for Nepal students.

But these researches have not dealt on the perception of Nepali students studying in China about tutoring of Chinese culture and how could that influence understanding of China in Nepal subsequently. Besides increment of number of students, how such cultural and educational perception could influence the soft power expansion of China in Nepal? This part of research is in gap.

How do Nepali students studying in China perceive learning of Chinese culture and language teaching? How much they are influenced by which part of Chinese culture? How learning Chinese language and culture changed their previous perception about China? How could that impact their understanding of China in future?

This paper will seek to research among Nepali students studying in various Chinese Universities about their perception about teaching of Chinese culture and language. How effectively the Soft Power theories are working in their understandings about China?

Significance of this research is in seeking how China as a rising global power is adopting non-traditional tools that is cultural education as its core, to expand its influence in the world, particularly prioritising the countries with its keen geopolitical and cultural interest.

Theories of Soft power and Higher Education Internationalisation will be employed with exploratory and analytical approach for qualitative mode of research. Online and direct interviews will be done among 30 plus Nepali students studying and who have studied various academic levels in different Universities of China. Data collection will be commenced mostly through online questionnaires randomly. Besides that, secondary sources of data, and research articles, official websites will be used.

Keywords: soft Power, Chinese culture, Nepali Students