Who's Afraid of China?
The Challenge of Chinese Soft Power
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About the author
Michael Barr is Lecturer in International Politics at Newcastle University. He has lived and worked in the UK, US, Egypt and China. He earned his PhD in Philosophy at the University of Durham and worked previously at the London School of Economics. In 2008 he was Visiting Fellow at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences. His research investigates the implications of the rise of China, particularly issues impacting Sino-Western security relations. He has actively promoted awareness of the dual-use implications of biotechnology and has sought to help train life scientists and ethicists in China in order to minimize biosecurity risks. He has published on issues pertaining to Chinese soft power, biosecurity, the history of medical ethics and dual-use bioethics.
If China suddenly democratised, would it cease being labelled as a threat? This provocative book argues that fears of China often say as much about those who hold them as they do about the rising power itself. It focuses not on the usual trope of economic and military might, but on China's growing cultural influence and the connections between China's domestic politics and its attempts to brand itself internationally. Using examples from film, education, media, politics, and art, Who's Afraid of China? is both an introduction to Chinese soft power and a critical analysis of international reaction to it. It examines how the West's own past, hopes, and fears shape the way it thinks about and engages with China and argues that the rising power touches a nerve in the Western psyche, presenting a fundamental challenge to ideas about modernity, history, and international relations.
; September 2011
160 pages; ISBN 9781780324661Read online
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Title: Who's Afraid of China?
Author: Michael Barr
In the press
'One need not agree with every aspect of Michael Barr's 'Whose Afraid of China' to benefit from his exploration of China's use of 'soft power' and its attempt to exploit the global information space. China's challenge in this dimension, its attempt to mis-position the West, to diminish Western values and appeal, reflect a maturing 'battle of ideas' about governance. Michael Barr offers interesting perspective on these dynamic questions. A good read for anyone concerned about governance, values and the increasingly informational dimension in which China increasingly challenges the West.' - Dr Stefan Halper, University of Cambridge''Who's Afraid of China?' by Michael Barr provides a very solid answer to the puzzle of why there is international fear of China's rise. Both those advocating and opposing the theory of Chinese threat will understand why neither of their arguments holds water after reading this book. It is especially worth reading for those who plan to shape a friendly environment for China's rise.' - Professor Yan Xuetong, Tsinghua University, Beijing.'China's rise has been generating so much breathless commentary that we now need more than just authors able to help us understand this complex country. We also need ones like Michael Barr who can shed light on the curious ways China is being fantasized about and feared. This short book provides not just a savvy analysis of Chinese soft power, but also a clear-eyed critique of the latest versions of Sinomania and Sinophobia.' - Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Professor of History, UC-Irvine and author of 'China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know'.