Talking to a Chinese taxi driver is always interesting as they know what is rotten in the Middle Kingdom and speak up candidly. Sometimes these conversations are also interesting for students of public diplomacy, especially when concerned with the image and impression of a country.

Writing from Ottawa, the author discusses the soft power benefits of the Russian-led KHL.

January 23, 2013

Just over two decades after Joseph Nye coined the term “soft power”, Russia is set to officially introduce the phrase into its foreign policy vocabulary at the highest echelon. It was recently announced that, starting in 2013, Russia will jump on to the soft power bandwagon by making the highly demanded concept the focal instrument of its new foreign policy strategy. The development, in keeping with the rich traditions of Russian theater, unfolded in three key acts.

Act I

Before the Olympics, if you'd asked me where the UK would rank in Monocle’s annual "Soft Power" Survey this year, I'd have hoped for a podium finish. After the Olympics...I am proud to find us carrying off the Gold.

September 27, 2012

The European Union (EU) has long been one of the leading international actors in recognizing the potential of cities as agents of global governance. Fostering a variety of initiatives through the Committee of Regions, which acts as the EU’s assembly of regional and local representatives, Europe has promoted the participation of cities in regional and international governance since its early days.

Nearly everyone likes cultural diplomacy in principle, but some remain skeptical about its value. It is seen by many as soft power at its softest, safe and fuzzy, with more aesthetic rewards than diplomatic ones.

For those of us committed to using cultural diplomacy as a significant force in advancing the national interest, that kind of condescending view is aggravating and we always welcome solid evidence that it is wrong.

If we do not highlight it often enough, cultural diplomacy promotes the creation of transnational social spaces of engagement and interaction. And, even as they are often identified with particular cultures or countries, cultural diplomatic interventions are also unavoidably cosmopolitan in nature, insofar as they move between, confront, and conjoin multiple social worlds. In this way and even when carried away by the worst excesses of national chauvinisms, cultural diplomacy is inherently a transnationalist project of sorts.