For nearly two hundred years the measure of a nation’s progress has been its capacity to Westernize. Today, to a great extent, China has shifted this narrative.

In the last three decades, China has lifted over 500 million of its people out of poverty according to the World Bank. The scale and speed of China’s growth are unprecedented. The world has never seen anything like the rise of China according to Martin Jacques, author of bestseller ‘When China Rules the World: the End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order.’

So what is public diplomacy all about? The basic idea is that in order to achieve a wide range of goals—­from economics to military—you need to get support of ordinary people. Whether the goal is to convince foreign publics that the rise of China poses no threat to the international system, or to persuade the so-called “Arab street” to shed its anti-Western beliefs, public diplomacy is called upon to work its miracles.

A recent essay on Chinese “soft power” written not by a US-trained academic, but from within China, provides a chance to find fissures between how and why China is using Western concepts of cultural power on the global stage.  (See Yang Danzhi, “Charm Diplomacy Bears Fruit,” China Daily, April 9, 2012).

NAMIBIA must change its country brand, currently flawed with stereotypes, narrow perceptions and cliches, to a bold, multi-layered one which will allow it to compete on a global stage. "Namibia's brand can never be a brand like KFC or McDonald's," Gordon Cook of the National Brand Navigator for South African brand leadership school Vega said at the annual general meeting of Team Namibia on Wednesday.

Diplomacy and cooperation at the level of local institutions, these being the closest administrative units to the public, are also seen as an important asset for public diplomacy, according to experts.

The initiative is a part of the larger exercise to expand people-to-people contacts that includes “IndiaAfrica: A Shared Future,” a programme led by the IdeaWorks, a private company, and supported by the external affairs ministry, that seeks to create a dynamic platform for students and professionals across India and Africa to collaborate through competition, innovation and entrepreneurship.