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Home » The Daily » The Daily: For October 23, 2013

The Daily: For October 23, 2013

October 23, 2013 6:54 am by: Category: The Daily


Our round-up of news, notes, tips, and Tweets exhibiting how public diplomacy affects the world each and every day.

P.J. Crowley steps into the U.S. public diplomacy challenges debate with the argument that the American perspective of its own actions has not changed since the end of the Cold War while the rest of the world has moved on, which causes a newly visible disconnect between what the U.S. says and what it does.

We support the United Nations when it serves our interests and ignore it when it doesn’t. We promote the transparent rule of law, but then create a parallel and opaque legal universe at Guantanamo, a prison we promised to close but haven’t. We believe in democracy but then condone a military coup that removes a duly elected (if imperfect) president in Egypt. We criticize China for stealing our military secrets, but argue everyone does it when our hand is discovered in the cookie jar. We say we respect the sovereignty of other countries, but do as we please. We say drone strikes don’t harm civilians even though we know better, or choose not to know. But it doesn’t matter, since drone operations are secret. All of these policy judgments are tough calls. They may serve our interests, even if they do not always reflect our values. We see these issues in terms of security and stability, while much of the world looks for dignity, justice, opportunity and consistency. They can be explained by politicians, diplomats and lawyers, but not easily advanced through public diplomacy. Absent the overarching frame and context that the Cold War provided, this divide is not easily bridged. [Take Five]


As a new investigation by Amnesty International reports that American drones are responsible for a high number of civilian deaths in Pakistan despite government rhetoric, creating long-lasting fear in Pakistan and decreasing the credibility of the program.

Their claims of distress are now being backed by a new Amnesty International investigation that found, among other points, that at least 19 civilians in the surrounding area of North Waziristan had been killed in just two of the drone attacks since January 2012 — a time when the Obama administration has held that strikes have been increasingly accurate and free of mistakes … On Wednesday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, a vocal critic of the drone campaign, is to meet with President Obama in the White House. And on Friday, the drone debate is scheduled to spill onto the floor of the United Nations, whose officials have recently published reports that attacked America’s lack of transparency over drones. [New York Times]



Does China subscribe to the ‘Don Draper school of international communication’?

It is unfortunate that China has chosen to appropriate ‘soft power’ in this way – as a ‘method’ by which Beijing communicates with the international community, tries to persuade audiences to understand China better, and therefore influence the image of China among the global public.  Beyond these narrow ambitions, it is difficult to observe any actual exercise of ‘power’ in China’s soft power push. This is why I believe the Chinese government subscribes to the Don Draper school of international communication. As the central character in the US television series Mad Men, Don Draper tells his clients: ‘If you don’t like what they’re saying, change the conversation.’ Transformations in the media and communications landscape, together with the rapid proliferation of so-called ‘social media’ – which are difficult and expensive both to monitor and manage, even in China – have persuaded governments that old-fashioned methods of controlling information are no longer efficient or cost-effective. Rather, governments concerned about the circulation of news, information and culture into and within their countries have grasped the value of trying to manage the narrative itself – of changing the conversation; and China’s soft power strategy, supported by vigorous public and cultural diplomacy campaigns as well as old-fashioned-style propaganda, has been primarily concerned with changing the global conversation about China. [University of Nottingham China Policy Institute Blog]




China is getting more savvy in the way it influences via the international media, including extending its state-sponsored reach in Latin America, Africa and Asia as well as the Chinese diaspora.

For the past three years, the government has been investing millions of dollars in a global soft-power push. State newspaper China Daily publishes inserts of its English edition in major Western papers from the Washington Post to the New York Times. China’s Central Television, or CCTV, has hired dozens of experienced reporters from the US for its Washington bureau and rivals other foreign operations like Al-Jazeera America. According to the report, China is also doing things like offering free editorial content to Latin American, African and Asian news organizations that can’t afford to send correspondents to China. It’s also subtly exerting influence over Chinese-language media in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Chinese diaspora communities. [Quartz via PDiN]



Is hacking a new public diplomacy tool for those who do not mind breaking international norms?

The computer attacks are ostensibly in defense of the Syrian government, with the goal of influencing public opinion in support of its national interests, which is one of the definitions of public diplomacy. Yet respectable diplomats wouldn’t engage in such activities. So who would? And, even more important, whose national interests are they promoting? If you were to ask computer experts where the best hackers are around the world, nobody will mention Syria. Two countries they will mention, however, are Russia and Iran, which both happen to be deeply invested in the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. [Public Diplomacy Council]


It’s not a very strong argument, but an editorial in the South China Morning Post claims that while China and India are developing in similar ways, India is less criticized because of its soft power.

Infrastructure and public transportation are a perennial favourite comparison. China is way ahead. Software development? India is far ahead. Government efficiency? Well, many Indians actually admire the policy efficiency of China’s one-party rule. But that’s something you rarely see reported in the world media. Corruption? China ranks 80 out of 176 countries in Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index while India’s rank is worse, at 94 … But India largely gets a free pass while China is scrutinised with its every move. That’s India’s soft power that Beijing can learn from. [SCMP]



The Chinese government is pushing an agenda on its domestic advertising industry to catch-up with the international competitors while promoting public service ads to increase national soft power.

Compared to developed countries, China’s advertising industry is lacking in terms of professionalism and scale. “Not many local enterprises are in the top 10 ad firms in China,” said Zhang. “Forty per cent of the ad market is dominated by six foreign-funded agencies, and the other 60 per cent shared among 17,000 smaller domestic firms.” These elements convey a sense of “positive energy” that is again emphasised by a government-affiliated entity that is People Digital, a outdoor-media subsidiary owned by the Communist Party mouthpiece  People’s Daily. Its vice president Wang Tianyang spoke of how the unit was set up in a bid for indirect government control over “very visible” outdoor media that has the ability to influence masses, but is plagued with light pollution and messy advertising. [Campaign Asia-Pacific]


About Michael Ardaiolo

Michael Ardaiolo is currently a student in Syracuse University's Public Diplomacy Master's Program: M.A. in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and M.S. in Public Relations from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. In addition, he is a recovering record slinger, a Criterion Collection addict, an NBA obsessor, and a struggling student of the Korean language.

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