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This book aims to contribute to our understanding of soft power and public diplomacy by evaluating these two concepts through the prism of experiences in East Asia, defined here as the ten ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) countries plus China, Japan, and South Korea. “Soft power” and “public diplomacy” are now household terms that are frequently used in discussions about international relations in East Asia. In the region itself, soft power has even acquired and continues to possess an almost magical attractive quality, to a degree that it never really attained in the United States or Europe. In spite of all tributes to this power dimension, which is commonly associated with ideational and cultural attraction, the truth is nevertheless that—across the world—soft power remains an elusive concept for most officials and indeed also for many academics. References to soft power in the policy discourse in Asia and in the West rarely run very deep, since it is not sufficiently clear how soft power actually works in specific international relationships. Its measurement is a formidable challenge for governments, to say the least, which makes it hard to substantiate any claims about its effectiveness. Almost twenty years after Joseph S. Nye coined the term, empirical measurements of soft power and a more critical examination and theorizing of this analytical concept are therefore still much needed. This book will hopefully make it clear that this is especially true in the East Asian context.




Lee, S. J., & Melissen, J. (2011). Introduction. In Palgrave Macmillan Series in Global Public Diplomacy (pp. 1–9). Palgrave Macmillan.

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