Political Leaders and Public Diplomacy in the Contested Indo-Pacific

in Debating Public Diplomacy
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Public diplomacy practice is intensifying across the Indo-Pacific as global actors compete to keep pace with the emerging geopolitical realities of a contested world order. China’s rise is the dominant feature. It comes as the United States retreats from global leadership, further heightening the sense of uncertainty in the region. Amid this strategic re-ordering, competition to influence narratives, set political agendas and frame the rules of a changing order is intense. The stakes for public diplomacy could not be higher and the implications for political leaders are significant. This article examines the role of Indo-Pacific political leaders through the lens of public diplomacy. While there are significant differences in approach, findings suggest that the imperative for political leaders to inform, engage and influence public audiences increasingly lies in the desire to shape the narrative and thus the nature of a regional order that will be favourable for their national interests.