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  • Public Diplomacy with Chinese Characteristics

    A former United States Ambassador to Thailand tells of being asked to contribute to a local university in Bangkok that wanted to set up an “America corner” in its library—nothing more than a computer station and a few shelves of informational material. When he arrived for the unveiling, however, he found that the modest corner endowed by the United States was dwarfed by the Chinese donation of a new building, fully staffed, to house one of its Confucius Institutes.

    While U.S. public diplomacy since September 11, 2001, has focused on countering terrorism and the radicalization of the Muslim world, China has been moving ahead, taking a page out of the U.S. playbook. Aiming to promote their model of governance, the Chinese have invested heavily in public diplomacy. Extravaganzas such as the Beijing Olympics and the Shanghai Expo are only the most visible manifestations of this strategy. World Affairs Journal’s July/August issue explores the Chinese advances.

    During a hearing earlier this year, Senator Richard Lugar (R–IN) ranking Member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, pointedly asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the 60 cultural centers at universities across the United States that China has been able to open. Clinton told him that the United States does not have the money to do what the Chinese are doing. Not so. With an economy three times the size of the Chinese, the United States certainly has the money.

    More precisely the Secretary’s answer should be, “we don’t have the priorities to do what they are doing.” (The State Department has requested $15 million for 2011 to open eight to 10 cultural centers for the entire world.) There are 282 Confucius Institutes scattered around the globe, all controlled from Beijing by the Office of Chinese Language Council International.

    China Radio International now emphasizes cultural and informational broadcasting internationally, and is investing in its own 24-hour news network. China also has its own version of the Peace Corps. Chinese diplomats are also being upgraded for their country expertise. Instead of being rotated out every two years like most U.S. embassy personnel, they are encouraged to return three or four times to high-priority countries like Cambodia or Myanmar. The Chinese are also among the world’s most aggressive users of student exchange programs with numbers rising dramatically, from 80,000 in 2008 in the United States to more than 98,000 in 2009.

    The objective is clear: allowing Chinese influence to flow out, while preventing information and ideas from flowing back in to “contaminate” China. As Stefan Halper puts it in his new book, The Beijing Consensus, “Eschewing confrontation, China’s true challenge arises in a separate realm, namely, Beijing’s transformative, leading role in the rise of a Chinese brand of capitalism and a Chinese conception of the international community, both opposed to and substantially different from their Western version.”

    It is high time the U.S. government took this challenge seriously. History did not come to an end with the election of President Obama, not did the war of ideas.

    Helle C. Dale is Senior Fellow in Public Diplomacy at the Heritage Foundation.


    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to Public Diplomacy with Chinese Characteristics

    1. Mary A. Collins, Rio says:

      Mary A. Collins

      7025 Castle Creek Way

      Rio Linda, CA 95673

      (916) 991-7639 Home

      (916) 243-8945 Cell

      (916) 991-1079 FAX
      e-mail changed from marycollins7193@sbcglobal.net

      It's Time to Write Medical History With a Cancer Vaccine!

      Obama's Medical Care Bill will stop Cancer Research in it's tracks and deny medical coverage for seniors. (note the 54 yr. old age limit for H1N11 vaccines.). This despite the fact that many seniors are "still alive and kicking" and work full time, paying top dollar for medical care. Many will die a painful death with cancer, unless we develop a Cancer Vaccine now!

      I am an 8yr. breast cancer survivor and hereby volunteer my antibodies for Cancer Research. I plan want to facilitate Cancer Research by developing a directory of Cancer Survivors, Patients, Oncologists and Immunologists and Immunotherapists. to facilitate communications between them and to help develop Cancer Vaccines as quickly as possible; much like the Transplant Specialist's Directory.

      I have previously written successful $100M proposals for the CA Forestry and Fire Prevention Department; funded by the CA Department of Finance in 1993. My professional career spans over 10 years of successful technical writing. I have four college degrees, including Journalism.

      Personal motivation is fueled by my family's medical history. My husband is suffering through chemotherapy for third stage colon cancer, my mother died of ovarian cancer, his mother died of lung cancer our daughter-in law's dad died of liver cancer, and our kids will probably suffer from cancer, if I don't help find a vaccine as quickly as possible.

      How has cancer touched your life?


      Mary A. Collins

    2. Tim Az says:

      China is a communist country in case anyone has forgotten. Do you really think they are going to allow a country like the U.S., that is barely clinging to freedom itself to undermine there society? More likely they are watching to see the U.S. fall on the sword of socialism that begets communism.

    3. Tim AZ says:

      I would like to remind everyone that China is a communist country. With that in mind. Why would China allow the U.S. that is clinging to freedom by a single finger nail to undermine communism within their own libraries? All they need do is watch the finger nail break and the U.S. plummet into socialism eventually arriving at communism's door step. The U.S. are the fools here that are allowing the Chinese to paint themselves as they would have us see them within our own cultural centers. Shouldn't we at least create a section that depicts the true face of China's Government along with the achievements of the Chinese people in spite of their communist govt.?

    4. Ross writes from Flo says:

      Only the Democrats could snatch defeat out of the jaws of success(the Republicans seem to be catching up at times). Now the Chicom's are using the same tactics on us that we used on the old Soviet Union. The program started just after WW2 and ended when Pres. Reagan pushed the Soviets to spend themselves out of existence with Star Wars. The Chicom are but a modified model of the same system. Most of the country is but a third world country(as was the Soviets) and they too are vulnerable by the communist flawed system.

      Everytime a Democrat take the Presidency, they make us look weak to the world. I've read that life is hard, but it's harder when your stupid. The American psyche nor will-power ( I don't think) is weak only our leadership. It is pass time for America to clean and set our house in order constitutionally, fiscally, morally, and spiritually. We've done it in the past. We can do it now.

    5. k k says:

      And how many freinds has China made??

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