The "fourth kind of power" identified in this book is what is today known as the "soft power". By examining historical events in China and across the world, The Fourth Kind of Power proposes the process of decision-making is in fact based not only on what kind of outcome and impact the decision in question may have, but also how such outcome and impact may change through time. In this sense, what is commonly understood as the nature and significance of "power" needs to be considerably revised.
The author argues the way to truly strengthen a nation is not to boost its military strength; nor is it for the government to lower its moral standards and employ whatever talented scumbags that are available. Instead, quoting the renowned ancient Chinese philosophical work Tao Te Ching, the author suggests that one's true power is intended not to conquer the others, but to overcome oneself. It is this power of self-control, self-discipline, that is able to truly strengthen a nation and make its people leaders of the world.