검색
Contact us | KOREAN

NEWSLETTER

00707012
2012.08
background left image
background right image
background handphone image
background pen image
ENGLISH

China’s Public Diplomacy in the 21st Century/Zhao Qizheng Addresses the 44th KF Forum/Zhao Qizheng, head of the Foreign Affairs Committee under the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, discussed China’s public diplomacy initiatives at the 44th KF Forum, held on July 5. As a guest speaker of the regular forum, Zhao presented an insider’s view of Beijing’s recent efforts to ramp up public diplomacy efforts in line with China’s heightened status in the global community. His visit marked the publication of a Korean edition of his book “Public Diplomacy and Communication between Cultures.”

A Quantum Leap

Zhao Qizheng noted that China has made significant strides in its public diplomacy over the past three decades, as seen in such recent events as the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2010 Shanghai Expo. Beijing has opened Confucius Institutes around the world to promote Chinese culture and language. Also, government offices dedicated to public diplomacy have been created, while in the private sector as well, public diplomacy associations have been launched in Shanghai, Tianjin, and Guangzhou, among other major cities, since 2001.

A Quantum LeapZhao pointed out, however, that prior to China’s opening-up and reform efforts, the global society, and the Western countries in particular, had lacked a proper understanding of his country in various aspects, such as its social system and development style as well as its traditional culture. In the context of the Cold War, the media and political elite of the West often misunderstood China, he noted without providing any additional details. But it might be assumed that he was referring to the West’s perceptions of China’s isolationism under the rule of Mao Zedong, between 1949 and 1976. It is true that Western countries’ views of China have been influenced by their attitudes during the Cold War era, when tension was high between the worlds of democracy and communism.

Interestingly, Zhao attributed the origin of China’s public diplomacy to his country’s own history, rather than any Western influence. According to him, the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs was founded in 1949 for the purpose of advancing China’s public diplomacy under Zhou Enlai. Since the concept of “public diplomacy” did not exist at that time, Zhou used the term “people” instead of “public,” Zhao explained.

Role of Private Sector

Role of Private Sector In today’s increasingly globalized world, public diplomacy has come to play a vital role in improving a country’s image and reputation around the world. Moreover, along with the public sector, the private sector, including the academic, sports, religious, and business sectors, should also play important roles in a country’s public diplomacy, Zhao stated. To implement its public diplomacy strategy, China exerts various efforts to build trust by promoting its achievements as well as exposing the areas which need improvement, in a ratio of about 70 to 30.

Due to the region’s cultural affinity, China places a top priority on Asia in regard to its public diplomacy measures. Highly evaluating South Korea’s achievements in public diplomacy, Zhao expressed hopes that Beijing would learn lessons from Seoul’s successes. But he also pointed out that despite their similarities, Korea and China are quite different from each other in terms of language, culture, and social systems, among other matters. In addition, insufficient bilateral exchanges have contributed to misunderstanding and disagreement between the youth of the two countries, he said. But, this situation could be resolved through the public diplomacy efforts of both governments, he added.

Sino-centrism Not Prevalent in China

After a relatively brief presentation, Zhao fielded questions from the audience, including those of a somewhat sensitive nature, which he handled in a composed and diplomatic manner. When asked about his views on Sino-centrism, he emphasized that such a notion is upheld by only a portion of the Chinese people. Now that an average 100 million Chinese travel abroad annually, Sino-centrism is not as prevalent as generally believed, he claimed. Also, the Chinese government does not support this concept. In response to a question about why China’s policy toward Taiwan has been more successful than Seoul’s relations with Pyongyang, he observed that Taiwan does not fall in the category of public diplomacy since it is not thought to be a “foreign country.”

As for questions about measures to improve the ties between South Korea and China, he mentioned first that Beijing maintains closer relations with Seoul than with Tokyo. While admitting to certain anti-Korean sentiments among some Chinese youth, he placed a greater priority on forging amicable relations among the peoples of the two countries overall. Seoul has been quite successful in cultural public diplomacy, whereas Chinese cultural products have yet to be well received in South Korea, he added.

Asked about China’s policy toward the Koreas, he emphasized that his country is in favor of the denuclearization of the KoreanPeninsula. Then, he noted that Beijing provides economic support to Pyongyang in order to prevent instability along the border areas and asked for Seoul’s understanding of this stance.

Lastly, as for China’s attempt to integrate the history of its northeastern neighbors within the context of Chinese history, Zhao agreed that Beijing should take a cautious approach in this matter and that there are issues that need to be clarified. Since certain scholars might be beyond the Chinese government’s control, scholars of the two countries need to meet with each other to discuss these issues in detail, he suggested. He also expressed his opinion that it is inappropriate for the government to be directly involved in this matter.

Zhao Qizheng

Zhao Qizheng is director of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. An experienced specialist in government public relations, he served as director of the State Council’s Information from 1998 to 2005. Currently, as dean of the School of Journalism and Communication of Renmin University, he engages in both actual practice and academic theory, contributing to China’s public diplomacy.

Chin Sei-jeong
Professor of Political Science, EwhaWomansUniversity

copyright 2011 한국국제교류재단 ALL Rights Reserved | 137-072 서울특별시 서초구 남부순환로 2558 외교센터빌딩 10층 | 02-2046-8500 | newsletter@kf.or.kr