Essay by Shanthi Kalathil
Aspen IDEA Project Staff
Published in the Institute for Study of Diplomacy, Georgetown University
In recent years, many have argued that China has been largely successful at using soft power to bolster its rise to great power status. This essay suggests that the Chinese government—and other authoritarian states—have fundamentally misread the nature of the relationship between soft power and the globally networked, information-rich environment, thus misunderstanding how soft power is accumulated. Because of this, their efforts at deploying soft power over the long term are not likely to be as effective as conventional wisdom would make them out to be.