April-May 2012: The View From CPD

China’s status as the soft-power superpower is underscored by the data illustrated here. With its huge financial and policy-oriented commitment to public diplomacy, China receives a major share of PD-related news coverage of BRICS.

On a broader basis, only when China and the United States are dropped out of the analysis does coverage of public diplomacy efforts of countries such as India, the United Kingdom, Turkey, and Australia appear significant. 

In public diplomacy, as in almost any other field, the competition to gain notice from the news media is fierce. With the United States and China being so dominant, other countries’ public diplomacy programs need to be particularly innovative if they are to capture attention. Whether public diplomacy officials should care about such coverage is open to question.

Given China’s visibility, what is it getting for all the money and effort in spends on public diplomacy? Public opinion polls from around the world indicate decidedly mixed results. In parts of Africa, where China has built roads and stadiums, its popularity has risen. Elsewhere, however, China is viewed warily as heavy-handed and insensitive to the political and economic lives of countries where it is expanding its presence. In two weeks of discussions with Chinese public diplomacy practitioners and scholars during my visit to Beijing and Shanghai in late May, I found no consensus about what China’s public diplomacy strategy should be or what China wants from its public diplomacy efforts.  The enthusiasm is there, but an overarching plan is not.

*EDITOR’S NOTE* The charts represented in this article are an analysis of trends in topic and nations in public diplomacy news from March 16, 2012 until May 15, 2012.

Additionally, this month’s articles focus predominantly on Brazil, Russia, and South Africa. Fellow BRICS countries China and India appear much more frequently in PDiN, and consequently they have each recently been the focus of past issues of PDiN Monitor. To view the December/January 2012 issue of PDiN Monitor, “India Emerged: A Review of India’s Public Diplomacy Activities,” click here; and to for the November 2011 issue of PDiN Monitor, “Assessing China’s Charm Offensive,” click here.

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