China’s Public Diplomacy Goes Political

In: The Hague Journal of Diplomacy
Ingrid d’Hooghe Clingendael Institute The Hague The Netherlands
LeidenAsiaCentre Leiden The Netherlands

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China’s growing confidence on the world stage under the leadership of President Xi Jinping is reflected in the country’s more active, vocal and, lately, even ‘wolf warrior’ diplomacy. It is also clearly visible in China’s public diplomacy approach, where priorities have shifted from advertising Chinese culture as the country’s major source of soft power to promoting China’s models of domestic and global governance. The Chinese government proudly presents policies such as the Belt and Road Initiative and, more recently China’s approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, as improvements in global governance or sometimes even as Chinese ‘gifts’ to the world. This article argues that under President Xi, the content and form of China’s public diplomacy have changed. China’s public diplomacy has hardened, it is more strongly controlled by the Chinese Communist Party and the content of China’s public diplomacy messages have become more political.

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