Michael Barr is a Lecturer in International Politics at Newcastle University. He is the author of Who's Afraid of China? The Challenge of Chinese Soft Power (2011).
Who's Afraid of China?: The Challenge of Chinese Soft Powerby Michael Barr
What role does China play in the Western imagination? The rise of China as an alternative model to Western liberalism has created a fear that developing countries will stray from Western standards of democracy, transparency, and human rights. However, such fears often say as much about those who hold them as they do about China itself. Who's Afraid of China?/i>… See more details below
What role does China play in the Western imagination? The rise of China as an alternative model to Western liberalism has created a fear that developing countries will stray from Western standards of democracy, transparency, and human rights. However, such fears often say as much about those who hold them as they do about China itself. Who's Afraid of China? holds a mirror to Sino-Western relations in order to better understand how the West's own past, hopes, and fears shape the way it thinks about and engages with China. Focusing on three key areas -- models of development, soft power, and ethnocentrism -- this provocative new book argues that the rise of China touches a nerve in the Western psyche and presents a fundamental challenge to ideas about modernity, history, and international relations.
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This is a well done spin through the world of image creation around China. We see the perils of promoting brand China--where one person's wholesome virtue is another's lurking evil. What are those people up to with all that supposedly altruistic development work in Africa? How come they are pushing Confucius Institutes in a campus near you? Can they pull their own country out of 100th place in per-capita income ranking? Are Chinese super-moms gonna destroy childhood as we know it? What are Chinese people thinking about the future world order? What is the Yellow Man's burden? The book is serious, but it's short and doesn't belabor its points. As Barr spins amusing tales, he looks at fear. What do Western people fear as their sense of being the center of the world shifts? I like the story about a woman who attended a series U.S. Commission on National Security in the 21st Century meetings in early 2001. The woman repeatedly insisted that a showdown for world supremacy was inevitable with China. China would only get stronger with each passing year, and the longer the war was put off, the worse it would be. The sooner the U.S. attacked, the better. Fortunately, most members of the Commission did not accept the inevitability. The woman was Lynne Cheney. Since Barr is married to a Chinese woman, I figure he has relevant experience on the balance between fear and opportunity in the multi-polar world. He looks at what our fears and hopes say about ourselves, and quite enjoys himself doing it. --author of A Galaxy of Immortal Women: The Yin Side of Chinese Civilization