Chicago Council on Global Affairs Reports on Implications of Financial Crisis and Power Struggle in East Asia

As President Obama makes his first official trip to Asia, a new special report for The Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the East Asia Institute of Seoul, South Korea analyzes the implications of the financial crisis for soft power and influence in East Asia.

Drawing upon a three-day workshop in Chicago of thirty senior experts from Asia and the United States, the report, authored by Thomas J Wright, finds that:

  • American soft power has taken a hit because of the financial crisis but the United States retains significant advantages over China, including its values and ability to accept international criticism.
  • Differences between a U.S. model and a Chinese model of economic growth are overblown.
  • The American worldview and philosophy of international order remains popular; the doubts about the United States have to do with its competence.
  • The soft power of multilateralism has increased. The countries that can lead effective multilateral solutions will benefit.
  • Japan and South Korea will remain key players in the region.

Download the full report:

Implications of the Financial Crisis for Soft Power in Asia (PDF)

A 2008 public opinion survey by The Chicago Council and the East Asia Institute found that the United States was the undisputed soft power leader in Asia.

Despite being damaged by the financial crisis, the United States remains in pole position if it responds effectively in the coming years.

The findings presented in the report draw from the discussion, but do not necessarily reflect a consensus opinion amongst the workshop participants or the views of any single participant.


To arrange interviews, e-mail Thomas Wright or call 617-447-8302.


Thomas Wright, 617-447-8302

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