Global media in public diplomacy has increasingly proved its usefulness in recent years. Many governments have competitively engaged in a war of public diplomacy through media to make their countries look attractive and friendly to foreigners while also setting the stage for others to understand their positions in the international arena. The success or failure of public diplomacy through media, however, can only be judged by its intended audience.

China's largest official news agency, Xinhua, is experiencing some growing pains on Twitter. It started tweeting in March 2012, but has amassed only 22,942 followers since, small potatoes set against its 9.2 million fans on Weibo (Chinese Twitter). Snafus like this might help explain why Xinhua's not getting more English-language social media love.

Australians online have reacted with ire to reports that the visa application fee for journalists visiting the Pacific island of Nauru will skyrocket from $200 to $8,000 AUD ($7,100). Nauru, a country with a population of fewer than 10,000, is home to one of Australia's offshore detention centres, where unauthorised asylum seekers who land in Australia by boat are deported. According to Australia's Department of Immigration and Border Protection, there are 686 people, including 109 children, currently held in immigration detention in Nauru as of November 30.

People come to New York City for all sorts of reasons: to study; to travel; to become doctors and lawyers and writers; to make it on Broadway or as stand up comedians or to toil in the kitchens of up-and-coming restaurants. Chen Guangbiao is here this week to buy the New York Times. It’s not as surprising a proposal as it might sound if you know anything about Chen, the 45-year-old Chinese billionaire philanthropist with a knack for staging over-the-top, headline-grabbing stunts in the name of politics, poverty, disaster relief and the environment.

Have I been wrong all along? Some critics suggest my newspaper columns since 1995 on the politics and economics of the Mainland have been — oh — overly sympathetic toward China. I just don’t know. But no one can afford to be complacent. And so the worry popped up again, for several reasons.

If you've done much Web surfing today you've probably come across a headline such as this one from NBC News: "Kim Jong Un's executed uncle was eaten alive by 120 hungry dogs: report." We'll get to the reasons to be suspicious in a bit.

December 31, 2013

2014 has already arrived in the People's Republic of China and, while the occasion is celebrated far less there than here in the United States, China's 1.3 billion people will enjoy a public holiday on January 1st. Following a busy, intriguing 2013, the break is welcome: The first year of Xi Jinping's stewardship was an eventful one in the country, and as 2014 begins China faces a number of issues that, in the aggregate, pose a threat to the country's stability.

Egypt’s government has arrested four journalists working for Al Jazeera English in Cairo. Police took Peter Greste, a correspondent from Australia, Cairo bureau chief Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, who has Canadian and Egyptian citizenship, and producer Baher Mohamed and cameraman Mohamed Fawzy, both Egyptian, into custody on Sunday. Egyptian police accused the men of “broadcasting news that threatens internal security and spreading false news.”