I was recently invited to lecture at several Chinese universities about "soft power"—the ability to get what one wants by attraction and persuasion rather than coercion or payment. Since the 1990s, thousands of essays and articles have been published in China on the topic, and the lectures drew large crowds. Over the past decade, China's economic and military might has grown impressively. This has frightened its neighbors into looking for allies to balance China's increase in hard power. But if a country can also increase its soft power of attraction, its neighbors feel less need to balance its power.
Nye, Jr., Joseph S. "China's Soft Power Deficit." Wall Street Journal, May 8, 2012.