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1. The challenge of China's development model
2. The myth and reality of Chinese soft power
3. Cultural alternative? Or imagined power?
4. The yellow man's burden
5. Understanding the fear of China
Glossary of Chinese terms
Posted December 23, 2012
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