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China Still Lags Behind U.S. In Influence, Survey Shows (DAVID BARBOZA, 6/16/08, NY Times)
Despite China’s remarkable economic rise, and its efforts to spread its influence in Asia through what is known as “soft power,” the country still lags far behind the United States in that sphere, according to a survey to be released Tuesday.

The survey suggests that China has a long way to go before it is perceived as a multi-faceted power and that the country has not yet found a way to translate economic gains into soft power — or the ability to influence people and nations through nonmilitary means, like culture, diplomacy, politics and education.

The study, conducted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the East Asia Institute in South Korea, is the latest effort to assess China’s rise at a time when American influence is widely believed to be in decline, partly because of the war in Iraq.

Many academics say China is seeking to become a global super power that relies on soft power rather than on military might, and that trade deals have helped it gain tremendous influence in the developing world.

But the study concludes that many Asians fear China’s rise as much as they admire it, and worry that China could become a military threat.
I just finished reading Peter Navarro's in many ways useful, The Coming China Wars, but there's a real oddity at its core. He offers a fine rehearsal of various problems China faces and/or is causing: it copies Western products rather than innovating; it then mass produces goods by paying exploitative wages; the quality of the goods is horrendous and often deadly; it lacks the natural resources to sustain the sort of growth it would require to become a developed nation; it pollutes at nearly suicidal levels, like Eastern Europe used to; it's running out of water as well as oil and metals and has built shoddy dams that imperil its own people; it has internal ethnic tensions, worker unrest, population imbalances that make a welfare system untenable; it exploits African and other workers abroad as it seeks to extract the raw materials it needs back home, making it the ugliest sort of imperialist power; the Communist Party has to ruthlessly repress free speech, the press, the Internet, religion, etc.; and so on and so forth. And yet, after going through these myriad problems -- and not making nearly enough of the multiple demographic crises that it faces -- Mr. Navarro then proceeds to warn us about China's emerging military might and the threat it represents. It's as if the Iron Curtain had never fallen and people never been forced to realize that a system so inept at self-governance, foreign relations, technological innovation, high-tech manufacture and motivating its own people is simply incapable of producing a military that's capable of challenging ours. As is nearly always the case throughout its history, when the shooting starts it will be the Chinese who are doing the dying, most likely at each others hands.

Sure, we ought to destroy China's nuclear capacity and space program, but just on general principle--that our enemies are allowed neither--not because they present a substantial threat to us in geo-strategic terms.


Grade: (B)


See also:

Peter Navarro Links:

    -BOOK SITE: The Coming China Wars
    -REVIEW: of The Coming China Wars by Peter Navarro (Benjamin A Shobert , Asia Times)

Book-related and General Links: