Building bridges: 15th Seminar for Chinese diplomats
30 Oct 2018 - 15:06
Source: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr

In September, the Clingendael Academy hosted its annual seminar for Chinese diplomats. The seminar, which was held for the first time in 2004, is organised in close cooperation with the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Themes have varied widely over the years, from climate change to the rise of Africa, and from public diplomacy to global justice.

This year the diplomats discussed conflicting perspectives on international order, big data and connectivity; three topics in which China and the EU do not always see eye to eye as their ideas and perspectives are sometimes diverging. During the week-long seminar, the participants exchanged perspectives with Dutch and European counterparts while practicing their intercultural communication skills. One of the conclusions that can be drawn is that, in spite of the differences, there are also considerable commonalities with counterparts from different cultural backgrounds.

Exploring global trends and developments   
In addition to the intercultural aspects, the programme also focused on trends and developments in the global order. In a thought provoking opening lecture by Prof. mr. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, four main trends were identified (from a European perspective): the return of geopolitics and the nation state, the increasing resistance to  globalization, the IT revolution in warfare and the increasing pressure on the multilateral free trade framework. Together with current developments in the foreign policy of major actors such as the US and Russia, this raised the question ‘’who is in charge?’.

The Chinese dilpomats and Prof Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at the steps of the Clingendael Institute

The diplomats also met with Dutch and European policy officials and practitioners, as they conducted working visits to the Netherlands MFA, the Port of Rotterdam, the EEAS, the European Parliament and the Permanent Representation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the EU. Different perspectives on international trade and concerns with regards to a level playing field and market access were among the topics that were discussed.