Now and Next
Edited by Jan Melissen and Jian Wang
Learning from the Belgian Experience
Michael F. Palo
Andrew F. Cooper
Public diplomacy has been externally directed via a strategy of assertive reputation- building. In an era of insurgent populism, this model faces strong backlash, driven by the image of public diplomacy being disconnected from domestic publics. Under these conditions, an opportunistic set of ascendant political leaders — even those located at the international system’s core — have considerable incentive to diminish ‘their’ own diplomats as part of a wider campaign to stigmatize the traditional establishment. While more attention needs to be directed to the causes of this disconnection between diplomats and public, this article highlights a number of key ingredients in a menu of adaptation to the populist challenge. Above all, the focus of engagement in public diplomacy should be broadened to include domestic as well as foreign audiences. Disruption, it must be emphasized, does not mean the end of public diplomacy. Rather, public diplomacy must take a domestic turn.
Since 2012, China’s top leadership has argued that China’s public diplomacy should integrate with the ‘New Model of Major-Country Diplomacy with Chinese Characteristics’. Among this series of initiatives, China formulates a public diplomacy model that is different from those of other countries. China’s model of public diplomacy falls under the unified leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), but coordinates various public diplomacy players culturally rather than institutionally. The current trends of China’s public diplomacy include to evolve from listening to telling, and to be more confident, positive and active. Based on empirical studies, this article concludes that China’s public diplomacy since 2012 has created a unique model that emphasises cultural and other informal norms under the CPC’s leadership. Moreover, public diplomacy will be regarded as a necessary wisdom to understand how China has integrated with the world harmoniously.
In contemporary public diplomacy, the idea of culture and nation-state are so intertwined that notions such as ‘national culture’ that fuel populism or culture as a soft-power resource often go unquestioned. This article critically revisits assumptions of state-centric diplomacy that tie culture to the state. Culture as a domain of the state, which helped carve up the world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, has become limiting in a twenty-first-century milieu that is both culturally diverse and interconnected. The article probes the communication dynamics that are untethering culture from the state and giving prominence to forces of increased separation as well as global collaboration, including the phenomenon of humanity-centred diplomacies. Humanity-centred diplomacies’ distinguishing features — global consciousness, holistic perspective, cultural diversity and process-orientation — suggest advantages over state-centric diplomacy for leveraging cultural diversity and tackling complex global problems.
Jennifer M. Brinkerhoff
Diaspora diplomacy encompasses diasporas as: agents in their own right; instruments of other’s diplomatic agendas; and/or intentional or accidental partners with other actors pursuing shared interests. Diaspora diplomacy is not territorially bound, and agendas are fluid. Three important features of diaspora diplomacy distinguish it from public diplomacy more generally. First, the diaspora identity results in specific applications of diplomacy for which diasporans may play a unique role. Second, diasporans’ responses to global crises of identity and inequity yield particular motivations and targets of engagement. Third, diasporans may have an in-between advantage for public diplomacy. The complexity of diaspora diplomacy is likely to increase because of circular migration, layered identities, and continued improvements and access to telecommunications. Researchers and policy-makers should focus attention on how to integrate diasporas into existing efforts to account for the complexity of transnational relations.
Public diplomacy is increasingly facilitated through social media. Government leaders and diplomats are using social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to communicate with foreign publics, changing the dynamics of interaction between broadcaster and audience. The key to understanding the power of social media in public diplomacy is the role of emotion in digital diplomacy strategies: social media statements relating to state identity can incite strong emotions that have the potential to undermine heretofore positive diplomatic relations, or provide communicative openings that move towards ameliorating crises. Examining the interaction of social media, emotion and identity provides insight into the increasing importance of digital diplomacy and the future challenges relating to digital disinformation that lie ahead.