Gordon Houlden, Heather Schmidt
January 7, 2015
What has been dubbed “China’s rise” has been met with trepidation or outright fear. The increasing economic and political power of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is often read as a harbinger of the West’s imminent decline, and as a threat to a Western dominated global order. To match its growing ‘hard’ power, leaders in China have outlined intentions to cultivate the country’s soft power, or its appeal and influence globally. These efforts too have been read in largely negative terms in a body of literature that has sprung up around Chinese soft power. Yet, these works tend to assume negative implications without being grounded in empirical research. The contributors to this issue were tasked with reconsidering China’s soft power in the light of research which attends to the ideas and practices of its mediums – mediums such as the expansion of China’s global media network, the opening of Confucius Institutes around the world, and the increasing presence of Chinese popular culture in global forums. This introduction, in particular, considers some of the lessons that considerations of Chinese soft power can learn from the field of global studies.