smart & soft power

When Caryl Stern, president and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, tried to raise financial support for the children of Middle Eastern refugees, she said many Americans tended to “look at her blankly.” It turns out that there was a widespread belief among donors that the Gulf nations are “rich oil countries and they don’t take care of their own,” she said. More troubling was a prevailing stereotype that the region is “a hotbed of terrorism.”

Vietnam is expected to keep chasing stronger relations with China, a political adversary for centuries, despite new signs that Beijing has added military infrastructure on several disputed islands in the South China Sea. The Southeast Asian country, long accustomed to China’s buildup in the contested Paracel and Spratly islands, is anxious to grow its exports and meanwhile wants stronger trade with the world's number two economy China.

TV audiences in New Zealand will for the first time be able to see Chinese TV dramas and films dubbed in English on a local channel. It's being made possible by an agreement signed on Friday, aimed at bringing CRI's popular China Theatre program to a Kiwi audience. [...] This will be the first time English-dubbed Chinese TV dramas will have been shown in Oceania.

As Russia’s foreign policy has become more assertive over the last few years, views of Russia in the West are becoming increasingly negative. But in Southeast Asia, a region whose history of relations with the USSR and Russia is fundamentally different from that of the West, perceptions of Russia today are markedly different. But can Russia make use of this positive image in its pursuit of soft power and influence?

But as part of the inaugural Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts (Asia Topa) in Melbourne, cultural categorisation is inevitable. Although not the festival’s overt aim, Asia Topa and festivals like it – including Adelaide’s OzAsia festival – categorise performers according to geography and culture in an attempt to improve a still underdeveloped relationship between Australia and its neighbours.

After lambasting both Tokyo and Beijing over their trade and currency policies, the new President of the United States has made constructive contact with the leaders of both Japan and China. But conflicting statements by American policymakers indicate that Washington will take time to craft a lucid policy towards Asia. As America reassesses its Asia policy, Europe must redefine its own relationship with the region. 

Montreal has been named as the best city in the world for students.This international ranking of university cities has seen Paris slip from first place - a position the French capital has held for four years. [...] It will add to suggestions that Canada will attract a bigger slice of the lucrative international student market, particularly if there are concerns about changes to entry rules under President Trump.

February 13, 2017

What happened to me in the first two weeks of 2017? I became a novice K-pop fan. But seriously, what’s so unusual about that? Are there not millions of K-pop fans too? Yes, that would be true, until I tell you my age. K-pop bands target teenagers, not grown-ups and certainly not people who are almost senior citizens like me. But wait, I also became a novice fan of Korean drama shows. 

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