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UPDATED: February 18, 2013 NO. 8 FEBRUARY 21, 2013
Public Diplomacy Mission
China seeks to boost its public image globally
By Ding Ying

Shu Yi, another Vice Chairman of the CPDA, made note of the many conflicts breaking out in the world today, exacerbated by the global economic crisis that caused widespread concern and anxiety.

As part of the global community, China will inevitably be influenced by developments in the rest of the world, Shu said. Notably, given its close link with the world economy, the country has been hit by global economic woes. Its pace of development has indeed slowed down, as opposed to double-digit growth in previous years.

Moreover, as regional conflicts become tenser, China faces serious challenges in its neighborhood, Shu said. "These challenges also provide us many opportunities."

He believes that the core of China's public diplomacy is to give foreigners an accurate picture of China so that they view the country's development objectively and reasonably, while helping Chinese people to see the world from a more comprehensive and balanced point of view.

Pressing priorities

The promotion of public diplomacy and people-to-people and cultural exchanges under new circumstances means that special emphasis will be placed on enhancing mutual understanding between China and other countries, deepening China's relations with them and striving for a virtuous interaction and common development. More efforts will be made to develop the sense of equality, mutual trust, tolerance, mutual learning, cooperation and win-for-all with the purpose of strengthening dialogue and exchanges with the peoples of all countries.

Since China is not yet adept at public diplomacy, Ma suggested learning from other countries. The United States, for example, has great advantages in this field, he said. The U.S. State Department, which handles public diplomacy, has great international influence after so many years of activity. Additionally, Hollywood and famous U.S. brands like Coca Cola are effective methods of bolstering the country's image.

"We are not able to devote as much personnel, capital and material resources as the United States, but we can be just as enthusiastic about public diplomacy," said Ma.

He added that European countries and Japan have been increasing their efforts, suggesting China adapt effective experience of different countries. Unlike political diplomacy, public diplomacy aims to find more popular and interesting ways to engage the public, Ma said.

China's public diplomacy is carried out at both governmental and non-governmental levels. Governmental efforts consist of Chinese leaders' foreign visits and cultural exchanges with other countries through governmental agencies. Non-governmental initiatives involve colleges, research institutes, the media and individuals through communications with other countries.

Ma concluded that there are many ways to boost efforts in public diplomacy. First, China should encourage all organizations and individuals working on public diplomacy to forge synergy. Second, it needs to bring the role of the newly established CPDA into full play in organizing activities at home and abroad. Third, theory and research on public diplomacy should be promoted. Fourth, more personnel training should be conducted.

Shu added that while governmental exchanges remain China's main approach to public diplomacy, more steps should be taken to develop the non-governmental side as well.

He said individuals are important when it comes to developing public diplomacy and promoting interaction with the outside world. "Public diplomacy is not just an issue of the government. It's everybody's issue—hence the word 'public'," Shu said.

Moreover, he suggested that China identify fields of priority when shaping its global image and these could include regional hotspot issues and serious global challenges.

Email us at: dingying@bjreview.com

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