Rising China has been reshaping world order for the last two decades, but this volume argues that we cannot accurately understand rising China's global impacts without first investigating whether and how its growing power resources are translated into actual influence over other states' choices and policies. Concentrating on the developing countries in East and South Asia, where the power asymmetry is greatest and China ought to have the biggest influence, the volume investigates China's influence in bilateral relationships, and on key political actors from these countries within key issue areas and international institutions. Using an influence framework, the volume demonstrates how China tends to try to gain the support of smaller and weaker countries without forcing them to change their preferences or to act against their own interests. China does purposefully coerce, induce, or persuade others to behave in certain ways, but whether and the extent to which it succeeds is determined as much by the reactions, political context and decision-making processes of the target states, as it is by how skilfully Chinese actors deploy these tools.
The contributors detail how China's influence even over these weaker states does not result from easy applications of power; rather it tends to be mediated through the competing interests of target state actors, the imperatives of other existing security and economic relationships, and more complex strategic thinking than we might expect. The book's findings carry lessons for conceptual refinement, as well as policy implications for those coping with China's reshaping of international order.