The Rise of China's Soft Power

China's Soft Power

The term "soft power," famously coined by Harvard University professor Joseph Nye a generation ago, has come to define a country's ability to exert influence through attraction rather than coercion. Just as American television has reached millions around the world, influencing perceptions of U.S. society, China also seeks to build a positive consensus through culture.

Traveling performing arts troupes, the CCTV-owned China Global Television Network (CGTN), the Confucius Institute program, and two Olympic Games (2008 and 2022) are only a handful of the opportunities China has to export its culture, history, and values beyond its borders. In recent years, China has also made its mark on the global film industry, notably with Wolf Warriors 2, which earned almost $900 million at the box office.

Who is driving this soft power? How does China's soft power interplay and possibly conflict with U.S. cultural diplomacy across the world? Join Asia Society Texas Center for a discussion on China's increasing soft power, influence on the global stage, and use of language, education, and technology to spread its message widely and broadly.


6:15 p.m. | Registration
6:30 p.m. | Program

About the Speakers

Karen Fang

Karen Fang is Professor of English at the University of Houston, where she chairs a college Initiative in Media and the Moving Image. As a film scholar, she is known for her writing about Hong Kong film, such as last year's Arresting Cinema: Surveillance in Hong Kong Film (Stanford 2017). She is a member of the Film Committee of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and has previously collaborated with Asia Society Texas Center on arts and culture programming, such as China-focused film screenings (The Love Songs of Tiedan, 2013, and Above the Drowning Sea, 2017), as well as bringing Chinese-American mystery novelist Qiu Xiaolong (2017). Her current research explores the life and work of Tyrus Wong, a Chinese immigrant who became a leading illustrator for Disney, Hallmark, and Warner Bros.

Steven Lewis

Dr. Steven W. Lewis, Ph.D., is the C.V. Starr Transnational China Fellow at Rice University's Baker Institute and faculty advisor for the Jesse Jones Leadership Center Summer in D.C. Policy Research Internship Program. He is also a professor in the practice and associate director of the Chao Center for Asian Studies, which he helped found in 2008. His research explores the growth of a transnational Chinese middle class; the influence of advertisements in new public spaces in Chinese cities; the development of privatization experiments in China's localities; and the reform of China's energy policies, national oil companies, and international energy relations. Through the Transnational China Project, he has organized research conferences with the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. He has also worked with the Energy Forum as the organizing researcher for the Northeast Asia Energy Cooperation Workshops, the Coastal Cities Summit surveys, and U.S.-China-Middle East energy relations conferences. He received his doctorate in political science from Washington University in St. Louis.

Gene Wu

State Representative Gene Wu proudly serves the people of District 137 in the Texas House. Prior to being elected in 2012, he served as a prosecutor in the Harris County District Attorney's Office, where he sought justice for thousands of crime victims. He is currently an attorney in private practice. He served his third term in office in the 85th Legislative Session where he was appointed to the House Committees on Appropriations and Human Services, and passed key legislation addressing Department of Family Services reform, as well as criminal justice reform. During his first term in office, he authored many important pieces of legislation, including strengthening pipeline safety, modernizing investigations in child abuse and neglect cases, cracking down on organized criminal activity, and improving college readiness. He passed legislation that modernized the criminal justice system, decriminalized truancy, enhanced Pre-K standards, and offered increased protection for victims of human trafficking. He also worked on legislation addressing juvenile justice reform, including raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction.

Outside his legislative work, he remains active and involved in the Houston community. For the past nine years, he has worked with Neighborhood Centers Inc. and serves on community advocacy boards, such as the OCA-Greater Houston Advisory Board, the Chinese Community Center Advisory Board, and the Baker-Ripley Neighborhood Centers Advisory Committee. He is the past President of the Houston 80-20 Political Action Committee. He has also served as a mentor and teacher for adults in the Skills for Living program, and tutored at-risk youth at Sharpstown High School. He earned his Bachelor of Science Degree from Texas A&M University, a Master's Degree from the LBJ School for Public Affairs at the University of Texas in Austin, and a Law Degree from the South Texas College of Law in Houston.

About the Moderator

Charles C. Foster Headshot

Charles C. Foster, who served as Chairman of Asia Society Texas Center for 20+ years, is Chairman of Foster LLP, one of the largest global immigration law firms. He received his Bachelors from the University of Texas and his J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law. Charles is a Board member and the founding Chairman of the State Bar of Texas Immigration and Nationality Law Section, the past national President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the Chairman of the American Bar Association Coordinating Committee on Immigration Law. Charles served as the principal advisor to President Bush on U.S. immigration policy during the 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns and was an advisor on immigration policy issues to President Barack Obama in the 2008 campaign. He is also Chairman of US China Partnerships, Americans for Immigration Reform, a 501(c)(3) affiliate of the Greater Houston Partnership and the GHP’s Immigration Task Force. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the GHP as well as its Executive Committee and on the Board of the Houston Ballet. He was designated a “Texas Super Lawyer” from 2003 to 2014 by Texas Monthly, the “Top Notch Lawyer in Immigration” in the Texas Lawyer “Go To Lawyers Guide,” the #1 Ranked Immigration Lawyer in Texas by Chambers USA and he was listed as one of the nation’s “20 most powerful employment attorneys” in immigration by Human Resource Executive in June 2011. He was the 2013 recipient of the Houston Bar Association’s prestigious Leon Jaworski Award and was featured in the critically acclaimed movie Mao’s Last Dancer.


Asia Society Texas Center Business & Policy Programs, Endowed by

Huffington Foundation

Bank of America, Muffet Blake, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and United Airlines are presenting sponsors of Business and Policy programs at Asia Society Texas Center. Lead support for Business & Policy programs comes from Nancy C. Allen, Chinhui Juhn and Eddie Allen, BP America, Cathay Bank Foundation, Anne and Albert Chao, Mandy and William Kao, The Southmore, and Wells Fargo. Generous funding also provided by the Friends of Asia Society Texas Center, a premier group of individuals and organizations committed to bringing the best in public programming.

Business & Policy Presenting Sponsors

China Series Presenting Sponsor

East West Bank

Event Details

Thu 08 Nov 2018
6:15 - 7:45 p.m.

1370 Southmore Boulevard

Houston, Texas 77004


Buy Tickets
$10 Members, $20 Nonmembers
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