I recently read an article on CNN titled, "China-sponsored programs language in U.S. raise concerns, hopes." The article was expressing surprise that Chinese language classes taught in American schools are being sponsored by China. I'm not surprised, It's called public diplomacy.
Maybe this comes as a surprise to some because many Americans don't exactly realize what public diplomacy is or that we practice it for that matter. However, that's besides the point. These Chinese language programs, called Confucius classrooms, have apparently tripled in the US in recent years. By being a Confucius classroom, the American school is given $30,000 to sponsor a visiting teacher from China and to build a relationship with their sister school.
After reading Nicholas Cull's paper, "Public Diplomacy: Lessons from the Past" China's Confucius program seems like a mixture of cultural and exchange diplomacy. It is cultural diplomacy in that the program is directly promoting the Chinese language to a foreign public-America. The exchange diplomacy is that a Chinese teacher is brought to America to teach the American student first-hand the Chinese language and to expose them to Chinese culture. This ensures that the students are being exposed to Chinese customs and values.
I think the Confucius classrooms are a smart move for the Chinese government. Americans realize that with the large population of Chinese in America, and with China becoming a huge economic power, it's practical to learn Chinese. The Chinese government can capitalize on this opportunity to not only teach Americans Chinese, but impart them with Chinese values as well. Both countries benefit from this example of public diplomacy.
The CNN article can be found at http://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=8814851116356551357