Can a nation’s soft power be measured? How do things like clothing, food, movies & TV, values, education, and religion effect a nation’s ability to extend its influence beyond its borders? We asked Irene Wu, a Fellow with the Wilson Center’s Kissinger Institute on China and the United States and Asia Program, to explain her efforts to quantify soft power in this edition of Wilson Center NOW.


Irene S. Wu is author of Forging Trust Communities How Technology Changes Politics (Johns Hopkins University, 2015), that featuring case studies of how both activists and governments have exploited the latest communications innovations toward their own political goals. Examples are from Brazil, China, Europe, and beyond, starting with the telegraph through social media. Her first book From Iron Fist to Invisible Hand: the Uneven Path of Telecommunications Reform in China was published by Stanford University Press. Dr. Wu is a senior analyst in the International Bureau of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and teaches at Georgetown University, where she was the first Yahoo! Fellow in Residence. Dr. Wu received her B.A. from Harvard University and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).,

John Milewski is the executive producer and managing editor of Wilson Center NOW and also serves as director of Wilson Center ON DEMAND digital programming. Previously he served as host and producer of Dialogue at the Wilson Center and Close Up on C-SPAN. He also teaches a course on politics and media for Penn State’s Washington Program.