Date: 16 February, 2011

Yang Jiechi: China’s Public Diplomacy is aimed to dispel prejudices against China and show the real China to the outside world.

In the latest “Seeking Truth” magazine, Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi pointed out that China’s public diplomatic activities are aimed at shortening the distance between China and the world and introducing to the world the real China. China is a country that is dedicated to maintaining sustainable peace and promoting collective prosperity in every country. Public diplomacy dissolves prejudices, misunderstandings, and doubts held by the outside world towards China.

The article pointed out that in recent years, public diplomacy has gradually become an action point for China’s foreign affairs. Its function and position have been further promoted as its significance becoming increasingly prominent. Chinese public diplomacy is now facing a new historical opportunity, shouldering the mission for a new age and stepping into a new stage of development.

The article mentioned that ever since the opening up and reform policies were implemented, China has won great achievements in development. The relationship between China and the world has changed historically. Modern China cannot exist without the world, while the world needs China more than ever. The international community will assign more importance to China’s status and influence and value increased cooperation with China. Meanwhile, due to the difference of ideology and values, the haunting remnants of Cold War ideology, as well as inability to adjust to China’s rapid growth, the international community still holds prejudices, misunderstandings, and doubts toward China. Theories of the “China Threat” ”, “China’s Responsibilities”, “China’s Aggressiveness ”, and “ China’s Arrogance” continue to emerge endlessly.  Faced with such complicated external public opinions, we must lead the international community to establish an objective and complete “view of China” by using public diplomacy, promoting Chinese history, culture, development, governmental ideals, and domestic and foreign policies. We must make sure that the above issues are understood by more people, so that our nation's image of peace, development, cooperation, and responsibility are protected and enforced continuously. We must increasingly strengthen our right to speak in the international community, in order to ensure that our developmental and diplomatic strategies can be implemented smoothly.

On the other hand, with the continuous development of China’s economy and society, the importance of public diplomacy is increasing day by day. Our citizens are concerned about foreign affairs and participate in them more actively than ever. They have increasing opportunities to participate in building our national image. They have stronger desire today to protect our national interest. We should listen to public voices when working on diplomacy, consider the public’s demands, and seek public support. At the same time, individuals in our country hold different opinions on our national power, international status and functions, as well as diplomatic policies. We must lead the public to understand China’s developmental stage and the international environment. We must let them view the relationship between China and the outside world rationally, and understand international and diplomatic policies. We should let citizens form a correct view of China’s interests by enhancing the central and cohesive force of our nation, cultivating the national philosophy of openness, inclusiveness, peace, and rationalism. These are the many responsibilities of public diplomacy.

The article stated that under new circumstances, diplomatic issues are becoming diversified and enriched. Public diplomacy is undoubtedly an increasingly important function of foreign affairs. Only by facing society and the public, viewing from different perspectives of society, and engaging in positive interactions with public will and opinion, can diplomacy take the initiative to make national development and foreign strategies acceptable and inspiring. In this aspect, public diplomacy surely serves as a bridge between government and public, government and media, and promotes understanding about domestic and international policies.

The article said that ever since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, social diplomacy and people’s diplomacy, which has served as the basis of  public diplomacy, has emerged actively, working together with national diplomacy. It has produced irreplaceable benefits in foreign diplomacy, helping to break the barriers of imperialism. Since the implementation of reform and opening up policies, we succeeded in utilizing useful foreign experiences based on China’s development situation and the international environment. We tried very hard to explore and promote public diplomacy.  Chinese diplomacy has grown in this process of innovation and practice, eventually forming clear Chinese characteristics.

The article also pointed out that the purpose of China’s diplomacy is to shorten the distance between China and the world, and to present the real China to the outside world. China is a country that is dedicated to maintaining lasting world peace, promoting prosperity in every country, and eliminating prejudices, misunderstandings, and doubts of the outside world toward China. At the same time, China is working on improving friendly cooperation, mutual understanding, and trust among people in each country, as well as making contributions to world peace and development.

Public diplomacy with Chinese characteristics focuses on domestic and international trends. Under new circumstances, the sense of China’s development is enhanced and internationalization of domestic issues and domestication of foreign issues has become more obvious. Public diplomacy should take hold in one’s own country while looking toward the whole world, paying attention to the big picture, and maintaining a stable domestic situation. In addition, it should develop international cooperation peacefully while coordinating both the domestic and international situation. It should take both sides into consideration, which means making the foreign public understand China while leading the domestic public to fully understand the international situation as well as Chinese diplomacy. It aims to reach the stage in which both sides support and promote each other.

Diplomacy with Chinese characteristics succeeds in maintaining tradition while advancing with the times. Since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, Chairman Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai established the basic principles of “the public come first, the public supervises the government, the government leads the public, both the government and the public work together”. This not only broke the barriers and obstacles created by western societies, but also played a great role in establishing Sino-USA relations and normalization of Sino-Japan relations. It also encouraged the great development of people’s diplomacy and social diplomacy. Deng Xiaoping attached great importance to social diplomacy, and promoted foreign diplomacy with full effort, which built the favorable international atmosphere for his reform and opening up policy. Jiang Zemin advanced these principles by promoting full dimensional diplomacy, and strived for more international support and understanding, which further enhanced the relationship between China and the world. Three generations of Chinese leadership strived for public and social diplomacy and won great achievements, leaving precious experience to develop public diplomacy with Chinese characteristics.

In the new age, the Central Committee led by Chief Secretary Hu Jintao also attaches great importance to public diplomacy and has advanced it with full effort. Recently, President Hu visited the USA successfully and accepted interviews from mainstream US media organizations. He met journalists together with President Obama during the visit.  He also attended the welcome banquet held by friendly US organizations, gave major speeches, and communicated with Chinese and American entrepreneurs and youths.  This was comprehensive illustration of our strategy of peaceful development and policy of mutual respect and benefit between China and the USA. This won positive evaluation and international attention. This was regarded as an example of China’s public diplomacy in the new age. Under the new circumstances, the People’s Congress, the government, and the People’s Political Consultative implement public diplomacy in their own fields. The media, think-tanks, non-governmental organizations, social groups, industrial and commercial enterprises, and individuals from other fields also play their own roles to practice public diplomacy. All of these actions have made public diplomacy with Chinese characteristics advance into a good and multi-level stage, in which political, economic, and cultural departments combine together, different areas and departments cooperate with each other, and domestic entities work together with those that are abroad.