Our round-up of news, notes, tips, and Tweets exhibiting how public diplomacy affects the world each and every day.
Chinese media boasts that Chinese New Year/Spring Festival celebrations across the globe are proof of the progress of China’s soft power. They fail to mention that Japan, Korea, Mongolia, and Vietnam also celebrate Lunar New Year on same day.
The increasing popularity of Chinese New Year celebrations outside China underscores an expanding international recognition of the Chinese culture and showcases the progress of China’s soft power, Chinese ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming said in London Sunday. “Culture represents a kind of soft power and the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations here help deepen the mutual understanding and recognition between the Chinese people and the foreigners,” Liu told Xinhua on the sidelines of a massive cultural display in central London to mark the annual Chinese Spring Festival. [Global Times]
Not only is China leveraging Chinese New Year as an opportunity to soften its image, but they will also be milking this year being the 35th anniversary of its diplomatic ties with the U.S.
With tensions between China and the United States growing over a range of political and economic issues, the Chinese government is using the 35th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year as part of an intensified effort to soften its image. Combining the anniversary with the Chinese New Year, which began on Friday, China has moved to expand friendly cultural exchanges with the United States and promote a series of prominent collaborations in music, dance and education, particularly in New York … But it also comes against a backdrop of rising mistrust of China among Americans who see it as an economic and military threat. A surge of Chinese investments in American holdings, ranging from Treasury debt to commercial real estate, coupled with frictions that have accompanied China’s rapid expansion and assertiveness toward its Asian neighbors, are viewed as part of the reason. [New York Times]
China’s public diplomacy output over the last few years has been massive; the outcome, on the other hand, is not showing the presumed return on investment.
However, when it comes to the outcome of China’s PD, the result may be more disturbing than reassuring. Unlike its Western counterparts, China’s PD architects—who perceive China as misjudged and deserving of more respect—have paid greater attention to improving the nation’s image. In an online exchange in 2013, Qin Gang, China’s Director General of the Information Department, described public diplomacy as “an important means to introduce China and improve national image.” China’s Public Diplomacy Forums in 2011 and 2013 also revolved around the concept of image.  Nevertheless, based on data from the Pew Global Attitudes Project, China’s favorability in 16 sample countries was in flux from 2007 to 2013. Compared to the country’s booming economic power, China’s image is in need of rebuilding. [CPD Blog]
The World Cup/Olympics are supposed to be a soft power/sports diplomacy coup for the host country. As Qatar is experiencing, winning is a double-edged sword.
A perceived lack of real progress in the improvement of conditions for foreign labour, aggravated by a Qatari reluctance to engage in public debate beyond platitudes, is undermining the soft power goals underlying the Gulf state’s sports strategy … The public relations beating of Qatar stems from the Gulf state’s apparent inability to draw conclusions from a failed communications strategy ever since winning its World Cup bid. Qatar failed initially to anticipate the criticism of its success driven by questions about the integrity of its bid as well as envy and jealously by those who had unsuccessfully competed against it. It subsequently surrendered the public relations battlefields to its detractors by deciding not to engage in the false hope that criticism would eventually subside. [Eurasia Review]
The rationale for #publicdiplomacy RT @textygirlredux: Why Must We Care http://t.co/7dzSIbxlZP via @Arendt_center
— Donna Oglesby (@Winnowingfan) February 2, 2014
As part of his campaign, an Australian politician is using soccer diplomacy as both a campaign tactic and a potential catalyst of breaking into the Asian markets.
Taking a leaf out of British Prime Minister David Cameron’s book, Liberal leader Steven Marshall will use “soccer diplomacy” as a way to break into the Asian markets at a different level. If the party is elected in March, it will use Adelaide United as a secret weapon on trade missions into east Asia. The team would play a match against a top side in both Hong Kong and Chinese province Shandong as the highlight of business meeting itineraries. “It’s not something that’s new it’s something we should have already been doing already. It’s a door opener, a conversation starter,” Mr Marshall said.
Staying down under, here is analysis of the potential scrapping of Australia’s international broadcasting network reported last week.
According to reports, the Abbott government is considering scrapping the ABC’s Australia Network in the May budget to save money, ending its role in “soft diplomacy” efforts in the Asia-Pacific region. The network’s future is being considered in the context of national debate over the ABC’s reportage of claims the Australian Navy abused asylum seekers and whether – as prime minister Tony Abbott has put it – the ABC was lacking “basic affection for our home team”. What’s more, the 2011 tender process for the Australia Network was controversial. The ABC was awarded the contract despite the recommendations of two independent panels and then-foreign minister Kevin Rudd that it should have gone to the Rupert Murdoch-owned Sky News. [The Conversation]
A different perspective on #softpower, ed exchange & #publicdiplomacy but not sure I see real differences here @ipdgc http://t.co/OWGm8iwLaX
— Jonathan Henick (@J_Henick) February 2, 2014
According to the chief executive of the Africa Policy Institute, Kenya is all-in on the soft power approach to dealing with its neighbors.
“Soft power” is now the wind in the sail of Kenya’s diplomatic enterprise in the Horn of Africa. Two events have recently thrust the theory of soft power into public discourse. At the global level, the concept was the epicentre of a widely publicised altercation at a panel on US-China-Europe ties at the esteemed World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, on January 30 … At the regional level, since fighting broke out in South Sudan on December 15, Kenya has pursued a soft power approach to the security crisis. President Salva Kiir’s decision to release seven of the 11 politicians detained on December 16 is a remarkable triumph of this new diplomacy. [Daily Nation]
Hackathon for Cuba draws online activists to Miami | Al Jazeera America http://t.co/ynYMYYVpra #digitaldiplomacy
— Jennifer Osias (@JennOsias) February 2, 2014
Citigroup economist Nathan Sheets may be nominated for the undersecretary for international affairs at Treasury Department, meaning the person in charge of the U.S.’s economic diplomacy.
The Obama administration is considering nominating Citigroup economist Nathan Sheets to be the Treasury Department’s top official for international affairs, according to two sources familiar with the matter. If nominated and confirmed by the Senate, Sheets would be a key figure in U.S. financial and economic diplomacy and would help lead international discussions on the global economy. This would include pressing Washington’s view that China should let its currency appreciate more quickly and that Europe should act more decisively to boost economic growth. [Reuters]
— Thomas Nelson (@trnels) February 1, 2014
Responding to the desires of the British public, the UK will now allow Syrians refuge within their borders.
The pledge came after long debate over Britain’s lack of participation in the United Nations program which aims to find 30,000 Syrian refugees homes in host countries. According to the BBC, British policy has been to deliver aid on the ground, which it has been, acting as the second biggest world donor to the United States. But Parliament changed their policy after domestic pressures. “The British public has been calling for this for awhile and I think the Prime Minister was trying to figure out what was in Britain’s best interest,” said Naomi Leight, an Assistant Director at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy. [Neon Tommy]
True Power Girls - the Defence Ministers of Norway, Sweden, Netherlands and Germany. #msc50 pic.twitter.com/HZGc0NeqJj
— Carl Bildt (@CBildt) February 1, 2014
Bi-weekly culinary diplomacy update keeps making my job easier.
On the power of Culinary Diplomacy: A dinner non-invite can be just as powerful, if not more, than an invitation. The New York Times reported that at the E.U.-Russia summit, a gathering that usually lasts for 2 days and this year was shortened to just 3 hours, Russian President Vladimir Putin wasn’t even invited to dinner. European concerns about the situations in Syria and Ukraine have significantly chilled relations between the E.U. and Russia, so much so that European diplomats do not see fit to treat Putin to a meal. A valuable Culinary Diplomacy lesson: while commensality is powerful, refusal to dine with someone may send a stronger message. But hey, Belgian food is pretty good, so maybe Putin can just go out for some Stoemp and a Duvel. [Culinary Diplomacy]
[Today in PD] World Should Watch Russia After Sochi http://t.co/9GcvstpAUO #publicdiplomacy #softpowereurope
— USC Public Diplomacy (@PublicDiplomacy) February 1, 2014
Nepal is setting up an economic diplomacy desk in its ministry of foreign affairs to leverage tourism and hydropower.
The government is set to come up with an action plan to boost tourism, foreign employment, investment, and hydropower potentials through the medium of economic diplomacy. The government has formed a high-level coordination committee headed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and set up an economic diplomacy desk at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) to best use economic diplomacy for the overall economic development of the country. [Republica]
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— MRico (@marcoRecorder) February 3, 2014
photo credit: Londontown.com