Our round-up of news, notes, tips, and Tweets exhibiting how public diplomacy affects the world each and every day.
Very interesting political calculus happening in the U.S. State Department over publishing the embassy-read air quality index in China but not in India: mix of mediated public diplomacy, political sensitivity and power balancing.
Air quality is now a crucial issue among middle-class and wealthy Chinese, and high readings often make national news and lead the government to take drastic measures like shutting down major highways. To this day, the United States Embassy’s readings are often cited in stories about Beijing’s poor air. But in Delhi, where the problem is worse and the awareness of it lower, the United States Embassy refuses to make public similar readings. On Sunday, the Times published a story showing that Delhi’s air is roughly twice as bad as Beijing’s when measures of one of the most toxic pollutants are compared. [New York Times]
MOOCs, a cross-border education system vaunted by the U.S. as a cultural diplomacy tool, are now being blocked in certain countries due to sanctions.
A popular online education platform has blocked its services from Cuba, Iran and Sudan to adhere to US sanctions on international trading. Coursera, the social entrepreneurship company to offer Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), has more than 21 million student enrollments in over 180 countries. Coursera co-founder Andrew Ng told The Stream there have been thousands of failed attempts to login since the block was initiated last Friday. News of these blocks has many online questioning the effectiveness of sanctions when education is involved. [Al Jazeera via PDiN]
France is putting its weight behind the nurturing of French language programs in the U.S. public education system.
Several levels of the French government — including the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Education, the Senate and the National Assembly — have helped nurture the program, giving seed money and grants to individual schools in New York as well as paying for teacher training in France and course books for students. Now, the government is intensifying its commitment by spearheading a fund-raising campaign intended to accelerate the growth of the program. Officials from the French Embassy’s cultural division, housed in a landmark mansion on Fifth Avenue facing Central Park, are going cap-in-hand to French corporations and affluent parents, expatriate and American, whose children use the program. Their goal is to raise $2.8 million in five years to help support the expansion of the program to new schools. [New York Times]
[email protected]: “World Leader Twitter & Web Directory” V34: http://t.co/u3QmrFfyHs #twiplomacy #DigitalDiplomacy pic.twitter.com/WQhKY2Vc6J
— Fernando Márquez (@feromalo) January 31, 2014
Here is an interview with outgoing Israeli diplomat Gideon Meir, who spent 45 years in Israel’s Foreign Ministry with 8 years heading the public diplomacy division.
Chances are that Gideon Meir, a veteran Israeli diplomat who on Friday will mark the last day of a 45-year career in the Foreign Ministry, did not agree with much of Economy Minister Naftali Bennett’s fiery and tough speech Tuesday night against a two-state solution and the idea of leaving settlements under Palestinian rule. But there is one part of that speech that Meir, who for eight years stood atop the ministry’s public diplomacy pyramid, would endorse wholeheartedly. Speaking of the delegitimization campaign against Israel, Bennett declared, “We need to take the budget of a flight squadron or tank brigade and close the brigade, and look at the struggle against delegitimization of Israel as an Israeli national project. Today we are not even scratching the surface of what we need to do.” [The Jerusalem Post]
This article’s praising of Japanese cultural exports (rock music, ramen, electronics) as a way to gain soft power feels a little anachronistic, but it does make a good point about failing to boost brand Japan in favor of individual crossover successes.
Yet, even though the country’s music, food and service are highly appreciated on an individual basis overseas, Japan still fails to leverage multiplier effects to raise the country’s brand power as a whole. South Korea has a lead on Japan in terms of soft power strategy. The country exports TV drama contents to other Asian countries, and leading actresses from the programs appear in commercials for cosmetics and various other products, aiding South Korean manufacturers in developing markets. Shawn Chin, president of a Singapore event company, points out a difference between the two countries. “In Japan’s case, individual companies and singers work independently, while in South Korea, the public and private sectors join hands to penetrate overseas markets,” Chin said. [The Japan News]
Honored to be mentioned, glad the conversation about #gastrodiplomacy continues! http://t.co/xkR48736xf
— Mary Jo A. Pham (@pd4socialchange) January 31, 2014
The UK is hoping to improve relations with the Philippines by promising more scholarships to British universities as well as waiving visa requirements for government officials and diplomats.
Described as one of the world’s “subtle superpowers,” the United Kingdom promised Filipinos more scholarships as it strives to strengthen ties with Asian countries. The UK also vowed to study the Philippines’ request to exempt Filipino diplomats and officials from visa requirements – a move that comes after Hong Kong sanctioned the Philippines by scrapping a similar privilege. “We are increasing the number of Chevening scholars from the Philippines able to study in world-class British universities,” UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a speech on Thursday, January 30, in Makati City. The UK awards Chevening scholarships – “an important element in Britain’s public diplomacy effort” – to “outstanding established or emerging leaders” from 118 countries worldwide. This year alone, up to 600 Chevening scholars have been taking one-year master’s degrees in top British universities. [Rappler]
How diplomats in Washington are using #digitaldiplomacy to connect online and off. http://t.co/o6hfIJPr0o via @diplomatnews @digidiplomats
— Molly McCluskey (@MollyEMcCluskey) January 30, 2014
Is football a soft power booster in of itself?
Is football really key to this demonstration of soft power then? And, if it is, is that a whole story? Arguably, the answer to the first question is pretty straightforward, and it is yes. Football at its best is vibrant, exciting, emotional, as much as it is a generator of capital and a means of exposure for a nation. It creates a sense of shared experience, of happiness, and, when it goes well, success. The image of a nation’s or a club’s fans dancing in the streets to celebrate a victory is not hard to summon. Collective experience is very powerful. The manner and style of victory are also crucial. The beauty of Spain’s first two international tournament victories lay more in the aesthetics of their football than any narrative of previous heroic failure. The arrival of Chile in the Monocle survey’s top thirty coincides with their team playing a swash-buckling, adventurous style of play based on Bielsa-influenced principles which stirs most impartial observers. [Medium]
Spotted: Outgoing US Envoy to China @AmbLocke on the cover of CN Vers of Men’s Health. Can Baucus match? http://t.co/UevIfb6iCg
— Karson Yiu (@karsonwhy) January 30, 2014
New Institute for Cultural Diplomacy panel on cultural diplomacy and cross-continental cooperation.