Sunday, April 25, 2010

For All the PD in China

How do you say "public diplomacy" in Chinese? The Washington Post reports on a massive, $6.6 billion PD expansion effort, with PRC-funded information and broadcasting services spreading around the globe:

At a time when the Western media are contracting, China is pushing its government-run news services to expand from America to Zimbabwe. The Chinese are creating TV networks, pouring millions into English-language newspapers, leasing radio stations on all continents and broadcasting TV news to a worldwide audience in six languages.

Soon the state's official news agency will have twice as many U.S. bureaus as any Western agency has in China, generating print, audio, visual and new media products with the blessing of the Chinese government. The move is part of an open attempt to increase the country's soft power and thus its global influence. But the article claims China's early efforts are as much Rube Goldberg as 1984.

A friend of mine recently visited the Chinese Embassy to learn more about the country's public diplomacy and received a bone-white book the size of a dictionary for her troubles, so I'm willing to believe that China's still working out some of the kinks in its PD. But I also know enough about China to believe the country is capable of creating and maintaining a formidable public diplomacy machine--and the words "New World Information and Communication Order" may take on a whole new meaning.

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