Charm Offensive


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How China's Soft Power Is Transforming the World

Joshua Kurlantzick

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A ground-level account of China’s new diplomacy and how it could change international relations

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, China is poised to become a major global power. And though much has been written of China’s rise, a crucial aspect of this transformation has gone largely unnoticed: the way that China is using soft power to appeal to its neighbors and to distant countries alike. This book is the first to examine the significance of China’s recent reliance on soft power—diplomacy, trade incentives, cultural and educational exchange opportunities, and other techniques—to project a benign national image, position itself as a model of social and economic success, and develop stronger international alliances. Drawing on years of experience tracking China’s policies in Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Africa, Joshua Kurlantzick reveals how China has wooed the world with a "charm offensive" that has largely escaped the attention of American policy makers. Beijing’s new diplomacy has altered the political landscape in Southeast Asia and far beyond, changing the dynamics of China’s relationships with other countries. China also has worked to take advantage of American policy mistakes, Kurlantzick contends. In a provocative conclusion, he considers a future in which China may be the first nation since the Soviet Union to rival the United States in international influence.

Joshua Kurlantzick is special correspondent for the New Republic and visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He has covered Southeast Asia and China as a correspondent for U.S. News and World Report and The Economist, and his writings on Asia have appeared in Foreign Affairs, the New York Times Magazine, and many other publications.

Listen to Joshua Kurlantzick's recent reading on BookTV.

"At a time when polls show American soft power declining, China's is rising. Based on first hand experience in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, Kurlantzick's fascinating book traces how China is building its global soft power. It is a must-read for anyone interested in the future of American foreign policy."—Joseph S. Nye, Jr., University Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard, author of Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics

"Joshua Kurlantzick has written an eye-opening book about an important aspect of China's global rise. Although often eclipsed by its growing economic clout, China's recent 'charm offensive' in quest of closer relations and more natural resources has begun to transform the world balance of power in a way that makes it essential for Americans to recalibrate their presumption of US pre-eminence."—Orville Schell, author of Virtual Tibet and coeditor of The China Reader

"In this critically important book, Joshua Kurlantzick describes the incredible gains that China has made over the past decade in winning over the hearts and minds of populations and governments around the world through its strategic outreach campaign. Kurlantzick's excellent work reminds us that America neglects our public diplomacy at our own peril, and that reinvigorating American prestige around the world will require far healthier doses of U.S. leadership for the greater good."—Jamie F. Metzl, Executive Vice President, The Asia Society

"Charm Offensive addresses a very critical subject and one largely unnoticed—the way China is quietly and methodically extending its international reach and influence. This is an important and timely book."—Derek Mitchell, Senior Fellow for Asia, International Security Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies, and former Senior Director for China, U.S. Department of Defense, 2000–1

"This book is about two things: the rise in China's utilization of its growing soft power, but also a vacuum of soft power and influence an emasculated United States is leaving. While many authors would gravitate toward only one of these two aspects, Kurlantzick is able to weave both together, and we are the better because of his ability to do so."—Benjamin A. Shobert, Asia Times

"Starting around 2004, Western policy and media circles realized that China was establishing durable commercial, political, and even military relations in parts of the developing world where it had previously exercised little influence. . . . The great merit of Joshua Kurlantzick's path-breaking new book is to show that this is not an accident or some unconscious process, but rather carefully sculpted Chinese foreign policy. The undeclared target of the policy is the United States, which China wants to discreetly shoehorn out of Asia. . . . [This] book is the first and best place to get a glimpse of what the future holds."—Mauro De Lorenzo,

"An important and accessible book; highly recommended."—Library Journal

"Anyone doing business with China will benefit from this closer look inside the nation that promises to one day rival the U.S. in international influence."—Entrepreneur

"In Charm Offensive, Joshua Kurlantzick explains how the Chinese are increasing their reach and, in the process, helping rogue leaders, causing environmental degradation, and undermining the United States. . . . An important story. . . . His book reminds us that this is no time for America to forgo its leadership position or to accept consensus management, especially when that means empowering authoritarian states—like newly, charmingly offensive China."—Gordon G. Chang, Commentary

"An intellectually honest book. . . . The book's greatest contribution is its systematic portrayal of China's growing global influence, and the ways in which that influence is hurting not only Washington but also international development institutions."—Dan Blumenthal, The Weekly Standard

"China is effectively outmanoeuvring United States' 'hard power' with a purposefully muted and non-threatening investment in winning friends and influence. It is an important story and . . . Kurlantzick has done an excellent job of identifying and describing the strands of Beijing's policy in his new book. It is a sober and even-handed account of a situation that needs to be understood by all decision-makers as the American imperium enters its period of decline."—Vancouver Sun

"China is winning friends and influencing people around the world almost as fast as the United States is doing the opposite. This is a significant change, and Kurlantzick may be the first journalist to draw proper attention to it. . . . He's written a good book. Charm Offensive is intelligent, important, and more than a little disquieting. . . . Kurlantzick has picked up on something crucial about China today, and it's time the rest of us took notice."—T. A. Frank, Washington Monthly

"Kurlantzick is valuable because he traces, first-hand, the cutthroat romp of Chinese industry all the way to Latin America. . . . His prose sparkles when he adds context and humanity to the cynicism of China watchers."—Iain Marlow, Toronto Star

"[Kurlantick's] style is straightforward and accessible, filled with telling anecdotes and powerful examples that support his narrative. . . . [This] eye-opening book leaves little doubt about who's winning right now."—Chuck Leddy, Hartford Courant

"Kurlantzick's book will jolt you awake."—Martha Bayles, Wall Street Journal

"Mr. Kurlantzick is the first author to successfully explain why citizens in developing countries in Asia and Africa have such a favorable view of China."—Mary Kissel and Hugo Restall, Wall Street Journal online

"This is . . . the first book to describe in some depth the full range of China's efforts to gain friends and exert influence on the rest of the world. Its descriptions and analyses are readily accessible to the general reader with interest in foreign policy, and specialists will learn from it as well."—Harvard International Review

Shortlisted for the 2008 Arthur Ross Book Award, given by the Council on Foreign Relations.

Selected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title from 2008.

Selected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title from 2008.
ISBN: 9780300136289
Publication Date: May 27, 2008
320 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4

Sales Restrictions: World excluding Australia, New Zealand and their territories, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar
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