Asia Pacific

Assessing China's "charm offensive." 

November 1, 2011

CPD Blog Manager: Naweed Lemar

September 27, 2011

APDS Blogger: Di Wu

August 22, 2011

Yet again we are confronted with a dilemma: when is culture an instrument of soft power? We talk about cultural diplomacy, cultural exchanges and even cultural influence. What is less discussed is how cultural paraphernalia connect to, integrate with, and ultimately enhance a nation’s soft power capital.

I’ve been tracking elements of China’s complicated and ambitious policy of expanding its information sphere to a possibly waiting world. In late May, I heard Dr. Hu Zhengrong, one of China’s most distinguished ambassadors to the international academic world, give a talk on this “going out” policy to the International Communications Association in Boston.

Australia’s Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd is pressing ahead on a high profile public diplomacy campaign to secure support for Australia’s bid to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for 2013-14. There is much to be said about the public diplomacy value of political leaders in such campaigns. Kevin Rudd is a case in point. Previously Australia’s Prime Minister, Rudd is already well known and regarded among political and intellectual elite audiences across the globe.

China’s quest for “soft power” in recent years is a direct consequence of its dramatic economic transformation over the last several decades. It is now an all-too-familiar story of how China is vigorously pursuing image-building efforts, from the global expansion of its media properties to the rapid growth of the Confucius Institutes. This has become particularly poignant at a time when, in stark contrast, the U.S. public diplomacy enterprise is facing shrinking budgets.