Culture in Power Transitions: Sino-American Conflict in the 21st Century

October, 2014 to September, 2017
US Department of Defense
CEU scholars Erin Jenne (Co-Principal Investigator) and Juraj Medzihorsky (Post-Doctoral Researcher) are part of an inter-university consortium of scholars led by Robert Jervis of Columbia University who are participating in a 2014-2017 project funded by the MINERVA Initiative, Office of Naval Research, Department of Defense, United States Government.
The rise of China as America’s chief rival and competitor in the 21st century has led to concerns that the 21st century will see increased instability and the possibility of military conflict. Consequently, most analyses of the Sino-American rivalry focus on the shifting military balance of power between the two rivals. We contend that traditional “hard power” represents only one aspect of the evolving U.S.-China competition, and that soft power will be equally important in the contest between the two nations. Will the attraction to and promotion of Chinese culture and social-economic model succeed in undermining America’s socio-cultural dominance in the world today, and thus weaken America’s standing in the world? Will the soft power competition exacerbate hard power competition? This project examines how the rising power of China of today and the United States over a century ago used “culture” to advance their security interests and establish a position of global leadership. The project will employ qualitative case studies and quantitative analysis of archival, conflict and communications databases to test for the impact of cultural diplomacy by both an earlier era of American leadership and Chinese leadership today.

For the Chinese portion of the project, Co-Principal Investigator Erin Jenne and Post-doctoral Researcher Juraj Medzihorsky are overseeing a series a computer-aided text analyses (CATA) of data that measure reactions to Chinese cultural products in countries throughout the developed world. From official government pronouncements, news reports, declassified diplomatic papers, news articles, blogs, and social media sites, we are compiling a number of datasets that will enable us to analyze the global impact of Chinese cultural diplomacy associated with the rising power's ascent.

Press release