Trade and Globalisation

Reports and papers

The Rise of China's Public Diplomacy

05 Jul 2007 - 14:43

With its rapid economic rise and sweeping reforms of its foreign policy and diplomacy, China has gained a place at the forefront of international politics. Conscious of having a problematic image in many parts of the world and aware of the international community's rising expectations of the upcoming superpower, the Chinese leadership spends more and more time, money and effort on public diplomacy. Beijing addresses negative issues and capitalizes on China's soft power. It uses a wide variety of instruments and is able to cater to specific audiences in different parts of the world. And with considerable success, especially where public diplomacy is in lock step with policy actions. Recent polls indicate that people worldwide regard China's economic rise as not necessarily negative - a clear triumph for China in the ongoing 'China Threat' debate. On issues where little progress is noted, such as human rights, China has a tougher time improving its image. Furthermore, public diplomacy is no longer confined to the realm of the state. Control over foreign policy-making and diplomacy is increasingly affected by internal developments and globalization processes, which have created a more pluralistic environment. An increasing number of Chinese individuals and civil society groups are participating in global networks with public and private actors, bringing new dynamics to China's interaction with the world. China's government, for its part, seeks to incorporate these new dynamics into its public diplomacy strategy.