China battling for scientists' minds

Coincident with a NY Times opinion about how China can defeat America:
China’s quest to enhance its world leadership status and America’s effort to maintain its present position is a zero-sum game. It is the battle for people’s hearts and minds that will determine who eventually prevails.
is an email I got from a Chinese scientific conference. They offer to pay me an honorarium to participate in the conference if I would organize a session consisting of scientists from outside China:
 The first author of each paper in an invited session must not be affiliated with an organization in China’s mainland. "(Invited Paper)" may be added below the title of each paper in the invited sessions. Invited session organizers will solicit submissions, conduct reviews and recommend accept/reject decisions on the submitted papers. 
Is this "buying affection" or is it something much more strategic? Invited papers at scientific conferences are quite prestigious, so they are giving me the ability to distribute favors and offering to partially pay my way.  At a time when science budgets in America are disappearing, the Chinese are actively building up their scientific expertise and gaining international exposure.

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