If there were a red carpet award ceremony for PD efforts by
governments, China would win for country trying the hardest to use PD
to its full potential. The Chinese have taken to PD well and they mean
business with their programs. This to me means that China clearly
recognizes the power PD has. It is also no surprise that the Chinese
took to a diplomacy tool that’s sole purpose is to influence- its
right up their ally, what they have been trying to do within China all
along! This is one reason why I believe that the Chinese don’t have a
problem with using the word propaganda when it comes to PD, as Wang
says their word for PD is external propaganda as opposed to the
propaganda within the state.
Few can doubt that China has not only taken to PD, but has its various
tools and mechanisms worked for it? To be clear, I don’t think China
needs PD to help its supposed “rise” in the world. I think that its
rise, which is mostly economic based, makes other countries and
powers nervous. China knows this so it’s putting an image out there of
the friendly rising power. The Chinese realize that if they don’t keep
and create allies while it gains international notoriety its power
will be seen as a threat, which will hinder its rise.
One of the ways that China is trying to spread its influence is
through its cultural diplomacy, which is facilitated through its
Confucius Institutes. According to the China Daily there are 523
centers around the world today. These centers contain classrooms for
teaching Chinese and each one is supposed to partner with a
university or a cultural institution. While the spread of these
Institutes is a great cultural diplomacy effort by China, is it working?
Well personally, when I think of China I think of major human rights violations, specifically in the labor sector where workers are paid inadequate wages and children workers are abundant, but that from my undergraduate education. I also think of communism and limited access to the freedoms I have in America such as access to unfiltered information (that I know of) and a transparent government. However, I am not sure if this means that China’s public diplomacy isn’t convincing or working so much as the domestic policies in place in America make it so I am automatically distrustful of anything coming from China.
Whatever the case of my biases no one can deny that China’s public diplomacy strategies are ambitious and probably working very well in areas such as Africa where China provides a lot of economic support. So what will happen to China’s international public opinion is not set in stone, but it seems to be going in a good direction.
Yiwei Wang Public Diplomacy and the Rise of Chinese Soft Power, The ANNALS of the
American Academy of Political and Social Science 2008 616: 257-273