Monday, February 7, 2011
Chinese [Public] Diplomacy
Something on John Brown's blog caught my eye yesterday, probably because of our class discussion about Chinese public diplomacy last week. He posted an item about public diplomacy's role in improving China's image, and the article takes note of the promotion - which almost seemed more like an advertisement - in Times Square. Also mentioned is the celebration of the 40th anniversary of Austria's diplomatic relations with China, which will include "an array of rich cultural events...in both China and Austria, including jointly held concerts, exhbitions, lectures, and plays." Both China and Austria will likely benefit from such cultural diplomacy, but China will probably be more represented in Austria, which is referring to 2011 as "Austria's Year of China." The same article takes note of the first Chinese Film Festival in Paris, which will also be represented in other French cities. China seems to be taking the notion of public diplomacy quite seriously, even if not always going about it in the best ways (i.e. the Times Square promotion). I think that Chinese public diplomacy officers need to take their audience into account when formulating their plans, but if their aim is to increase cultural understanding and exchange, I think China's taken steps in the right direction. After the bad publicity surrounding China's attitudes towards Tibet circa the 2008 Olympics, and the state's overall problematic human rights record, it would be absurd for PD officers to try and portray such things as irrelevant. Emphasizing China's unique history and culture is a better way to get people more curious about the "positive" vs. "negative" aspects of modern China...and maybe even serve as a distraction.