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Charm Offensive: How China's Soft Power Is Transforming the World (A New Republic Book)
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Top Customer Reviews
While the author was indefatigable in chasing down every Chinese acitivity in remote areas of the world and describing them with careful fidelity, he was less successful in remaining objective as he drew his conclusions. The tone frequently hint at something negative on the underside of the Chinese even if not verified by his data. He seemed unable to give China full credit for whatever they are doing right. The book seemed full of tentative "yes, but" conclusions that I found frustrating. If there was a dark side to China's international relations, I wish the author would simply say so and back it up with his otherwise careful research.
On the other hand when he attempted to contrast what China was doing right with what the Bush Administration had been doing wrong, he was surprisingly mealy mouthed, never quite calling the neoconpoop unilateralism for the damage it did to American prestige and the respect the rest of the world once held for the U.S.
In sum, I recommend this book on a subject that has not been covered to this depth, a subject that will become increasingly important to foreign policy wonks, especially in Washington. I would simply discount some of his limp conclusions and pay attention to his field research.
However, some of the sections seemed like the author stitched together shorter articles he had written previously. I think providing headers for subsections, lists for certain things (like China's tools for public diplomacy), and organizing the book or chapters by regions of the world rather than mixing everything would have made it a bit better organized.
I was also disappointed with the author's treatment of the China-Burma relationship. As a longtime Burma watcher, I have followed this relationship and have never seen any reason for viewing China's role in Burma as anything other than obstructionist. Even before the recent protests in Burma, it was clear that China was the main obstacle to getting any sort of UN Security Council resolution on the country. I was surprised that the author did not explore this more, since it seems to suggest that China is LESS willing to support changes near home, particularly when such changes could lead to instability, than abroad, like in Sudan where it has sent peacekeepers and has not played such an obstructive role in the UN Security COuncil.
Bottom line: the book is worth reading and tells of fascinating events, but I hope there are more on this subject in the future.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I first studied China, the "Middle Kingdom," in 1975 when I found Mao relevant to my primary interest, understanding and addressing revolution in all its forms. Read morePublished on October 25, 2008 by Robert David STEELE Vivas
It's very very hard to put down I enjoyed it very much and found it intersting.