Despite the amount of research indicating the growing success of China's "soft power" in the developing world, few theoretically informed discussions explain its soft power influence. Using Robert Cox's critical theory of international relations, this article contends that China has co-opted the future elites of the peripheral world to decrease the "China threat" argument. Through a survey of China Scholarship Council (CSC) recipients from 2009 to 2015, the authors' findings show that the CSC has played a considerable role in the socialisation of its soft power to reduce less developed countries' fear of a revisionary China.