122 Short Reviews
new titles by Clive Hamilton; amy Chua; mathilde Chatin & Giulio m. Gallarotti (eds.); Brian D. taylor; Øystein tunsjø; Paul thomas Chamberlin; stephen r. Platt; sulmaan Wasif Khan; michiko Kakutani; steven levitsky & Daniel Ziblatt; Prasenjit K. Basu; rudrangshu mukherjee.
Along with the last decade’s global trend of liberal retreat and authoritarian ascent, and as authoritarian states — China and Russia in particular — vigorously try to expand their influence across the globe, a new notion of “sharp power” has recently begun to attract attention. This refers to the ability to affect others to obtain desired outcomes, not through attraction, as with soft power, but through distraction and manipulation of information. Often involved are attempts by governments to guide, buy or coerce political influence and control discussion of sensitive topics globally, typically by means nontransparent and questionable, if not outright illegal.
Clive Hamilton here thoroughly probes China’s sharp power in Australia. Beijing uses its economic clout, political pressure, local media, its cultural promoter Confucius Institutes, pro-chinese local organizations, even students to exert influence on such diverse targets as Australia’s Chinese diaspora, journalists, think tanks, universities and academics, and politicians. There is ample evidence that China’s sharp power extends widely across the world, and Hamilton’s analysis is thorough and convincing enough to act as a warning for not only Australia, but also those open societies vulnerable to Chinese penetration, to be prepared. But oddly, his key suggestion that Australia build a more balanced US alliance by pursuing an Alliance of Asian Democracies is rather too “strategic” to be an appropriate response to Beijing’s pervasive, perforating campaign.
Silent Invasion: China’s Influence in AustraliaBy Clive Hamilton Hardie Grant Books, 2018, 376 pages, $20.77 (Paperback)