Introduction: Soft Power, Pessoptimism, and the Rise of China

William A. Callahan

in China

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780199549955
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191720314 | DOI:
Introduction: Soft Power, Pessoptimism, and the Rise of China

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Illustrates how we need to take the soft power of culture and history seriously to understand China's national identity and foreign policy. It argues that identity and security in China are defined by a positive – negative dynamic: to understand China's glowing optimism, we need to understand its enduring pessimism. To demonstrate the pessoptimistic links between identity and security, the chapter extends analysis beyond official diplomacy to see foreign affairs as an everyday activity among elites, academics and the general public. It widens the scope of analysis to include unofficial texts – including Chinese films, television, novels, photos, blogs, and online videos – to analyze the interplay of state policy and popular culture. The most important thing to understand about China's pessoptimism is that it is fundamentally unstable, producing shifting feelings.

Keywords: nationalism; foreign policy; China; pessoptimism; identity; security

Chapter.  11236 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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