smart & soft power
Russia has been making the headlines of international media for a while now. But none of that had to do with a strong economy or a powerful army because Russia simply doesn't have either. Instead, it has learned to interfere through other means in the politics, media, elections and national security of other countries. [...] The new methods of Russian influence are well-known, but it seems that Western countries have turned out to be unprepared for them.
“I love exams. People are usually afraid of them, but I love exams,” says HR Nagendra, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal yoga consultant. And as a result of his efforts, along with other yoga exponents like Jaggi Vasudev, Baba Ramdev and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a module has been designed so that yoga teachers across India can take exams to receive government certification.
The cultural relationship between Canada and China predates both countries. Canada is 150 years old. The People’s Republic of China, in its modern manifestation, barely 67. But known cultural connections between the two societies begin 158 years ago for British Columbia, when many emigrated from China, first to the Fraser River gold rush and then to build railways, work in the coal mines and build merchant empires.
When Caryl Stern, president and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, tried to raise financial support for the children of Middle Eastern refugees, she said many Americans tended to “look at her blankly.” It turns out that there was a widespread belief among donors that the Gulf nations are “rich oil countries and they don’t take care of their own,” she said. More troubling was a prevailing stereotype that the region is “a hotbed of terrorism.”
Vietnam is expected to keep chasing stronger relations with China, a political adversary for centuries, despite new signs that Beijing has added military infrastructure on several disputed islands in the South China Sea. The Southeast Asian country, long accustomed to China’s buildup in the contested Paracel and Spratly islands, is anxious to grow its exports and meanwhile wants stronger trade with the world's number two economy China.
TV audiences in New Zealand will for the first time be able to see Chinese TV dramas and films dubbed in English on a local channel. It's being made possible by an agreement signed on Friday, aimed at bringing CRI's popular China Theatre program to a Kiwi audience. [...] This will be the first time English-dubbed Chinese TV dramas will have been shown in Oceania.
As Russia’s foreign policy has become more assertive over the last few years, views of Russia in the West are becoming increasingly negative. But in Southeast Asia, a region whose history of relations with the USSR and Russia is fundamentally different from that of the West, perceptions of Russia today are markedly different. But can Russia make use of this positive image in its pursuit of soft power and influence?
But as part of the inaugural Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts (Asia Topa) in Melbourne, cultural categorisation is inevitable. Although not the festival’s overt aim, Asia Topa and festivals like it – including Adelaide’s OzAsia festival – categorise performers according to geography and culture in an attempt to improve a still underdeveloped relationship between Australia and its neighbours.