Beijing Does It Better

The Charm Offensive And Chinese Soft Power

This weekend, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with U.S. President Barack Obama at Sunnylands estate in California for what has been called a “shirtsleeves summit." The unusually informal meeting was designed to allow the two leaders to freely discuss a broad range of topics, signaling that both Washington and Beijing have hopes for a closer partnership. The United States is not the only audience that Xi hopes to win over. During the last few years, Beijing’s efforts to improve its international standing have included not just various media and cultural campaigns but also vigorous diplomatic initiatives and billions of dollars in no-strings-attached aid to developing economies.

Western critics tend to focus on the media and cultural components of this push while ignoring the rest. At a time when anxious prognostications about China’s rise dominate media headlines, deriding China’s soft-power strategy -- in particular, its failure to

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