For China, the film industry’s lure is evident. China hopes to tap into Hollywood’s expertise as it builds up its own nascent entertainment industry. It also understands popular culture’s potential as a PR platform for the Chinese Communist Party on the global stage.

Defensive no more about its censorship record, China is trumpeting its vision of “Internet sovereignty” as a model for the world and is moving to make it a legal reality at home. At the same time — confounding Western skeptics — the Internet is nonetheless thriving in China, with nearly 700 million users, putting almost 1 in 4 of the world’s online population behind the Great Firewall.

The ABC has been embarrassed by self-censorship in Chinese language news items selected and posted on its AustraliaPlus.cn website. The broadcaster’s ABC International division recently admitted to Media Watch that the AustraliaPlus.cn website, with online penetration of China’s internet firewall to a potential audience of 700 million people, is actually meant to exclude news and current affairs, with the possible exception of business news.

In 2014, France’s ban on the burqa and niqab — versions of the veil worn by many Muslim women to cover their heads and their bodies —  ignited a firestorm of criticism of how lawmakers continue to censor women’s bodies and how that very censorship simultaneously reflects and fuels increased fear in Europe.

ABC management has issued a strongly-worded statement refuting accusations of pro-government censorship [...] “The ABC has not, and never has, entered into an agreement with China or any country in regards to censorship of its content,” the ABC said in a strongly-worded statement.

The closing of Al Jazeera America, expected in April, is a sad conclusion to a project that was by turns uplifting and inspiring as well as troubling and depressing. Its demise offers a lesson in both the limitations of public diplomacy and the obstacles to providing high-quality television journalism.

As the dust settles after the 2nd annual World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, China, media commentary outside of China has largely focused on President Xi Jinping’s opening statements about “cybersovereignty,” with scholars focusing on the suppressive censorship tactics that this policy is oft seen to represent in China’s domestic cyberspace.

When it comes to public diplomacy, China might be better off loosening up and developing a sense of humor about itself. Gone are the days of Hu Jintao’s “smile diplomacy,” which aimed to convince the world that it had nothing to fear from a rising China.