Colorful Dragon

B. M. Jain's new book examines China's use of soft power tools to improve relations with countries like Bangladesh and India. 

Since its premiere in Beijing in 2013, the 90-minute show has become something of a cultural calling card for China as the country seeks to bolster its efforts to project soft power abroad. Having already toured in Europe, the production will move to New York in January and then to the Kennedy Center in Washington.

Even as China increases its footprint in Cameroon through its language institutes and companies, locals are divided on how these facilities are impacting their lives. While youth welcome them as cultural bridges and windows of opportunity for jobs [...] What is most worrying is a growing feeling that these language schools may make local youth lose their moorings, confidence, belief and identity 

Picture a world where human relationships are challenging, narcissism and self-centeredness are on the rise, and there is disagreement on the best way for people to live harmoniously together. It sounds like 21st-century America. But the society that Michael Puett, a tall, 48-year-old bespectacled professor of Chinese history at Harvard University, is describing to more than 700 rapt undergraduates is China, 2,500 years ago.

The Second Nishan Forum on World Civilizations dedicated to promoting cultural diversity and cross-cultural dialogue opened Monday morning in Confucius' birthplace Qufu. With a theme of "Harmony with diversity and the harmonious world: belief, moral values, respect, solidarity," the three-day event has drawn over 90 experts and scholars from more than 20 countries.

Chinese leaders, determined to persuade America that they mean no harm, have recruited Sun Tzu to their cause. China is hamstrung by a contemporary culture that has little global appeal. Since the present is a hard sell, China is having to lean heavily on the distant past.

Mr Nye himself drew a link between soft power and Sun Tzu in a 2008 book, “The Powers to Lead”. Sun Tzu, he said, had concluded that “the highest excellence is never having to fight because the commencement of battle signifies a political failure”. To be a “smart” warrior, said Mr Nye, one had to understand “the soft power of attraction as well as the hard power of coercion”.