There is a debate raging about China’s sharp power and how to defend against it, whether it’s investment screening, shuttering Confucius institutes, or forcing visa reciprocity for journalists. But how does a fractious, divided world not only resist Beijing’s sharp power but also find ways to constructively engage with China? Or to use a soccer metaphor, how can the international community—governments, civil society actors, and individuals—avoid just saying “no” to Beijing and playing “defense” by protecting rather narrowly defined national interests? To what extent could the lowering of liberal-democratic standards by becoming increasingly illiberal and paranoid about Chinese Communist Party influence operations lead to proverbial “own goals”? And are there new strategies of continued, considered interaction—a new way of playing “offense”—that policymakers could adapt?
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