Matt Armstrong's blog on public diplomacy, international journalism, and the struggle against propaganda

Debating China’s Global Reputation – a conference in Beijing May 19

Public Diplomacy ForumThe first major international conference on public diplomacy and China’s reputation in the world will take place in Beijing later this month. The event is co-sponsored by the Charhar Institute, China’s foremost public diplomacy think tank, the Clingendael Institute of the Netherlands, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands Embassy in Beijing, and the China-Europe Academic Network (CEAN). The theme is “Geo-cultural Perspectives on Public Diplomacy – Trialogue among Chinese, European, and American Scholars.”

The forum brings together a mixed group of leading Chinese and international scholars, think-tankers and practitioners will debate and develop a geo-cultural perspective on public diplomacy based on a China-Europe-US-Dialogue.

The May 19 event starts at 9am and will end at 4:30pm (local time). I am not aware of any webcast or transcription, but I will share what I can after the event.

The conference opens with three 30min keynotes, including one by me:

  1. Zhao Qizheng: The Future of China’s Public Diplomacy
  2. Matt Armstrong: The Learning Curve of US Public Diplomacy
  3. Amb. Markus Ederer: The Potential of Public Diplomacy in China-EU Relations

Zhao Qizheng is the Vice Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Peoples Political Consultative Conference and Dean of the School of Journalism and Communication at Renmin University. Amb. Markus Ederer is the EU Ambassador to China.

The keynote session will be followed by comments and an hour-long “dialogue” with journalists. The second session of the day is “Debating China’s Public Diplomacy” with panelists speaking for 10min each. Tentative topics include “Is there a China model for public diplomacy?” and “What can China’s public diplomacy towards Pakistan tell us?”

The third session will be chaired by Clingendael’s Jan Melissen. Panelists, again with 10min each, include Phil Seib of USC’s Center on Public Diplomacy, Ronald Gratz, Wang Jay, and Ingrid d’Hooghe.

I will share more about this conference after it occurs.

What would you highlight as positive examples of U.S. public diplomacy over the past ten years?

(Note: the image on this post for the “Public Diplomacy Forum” is from the USIA, not this event.)

  • Jon Walman says:

    As the US learned through more than 10 years of war, diplomatic success depends on understanding and ultimately earning people’s trust. Trying to influence minds or shield minority voices as a soft power strategy is bound to backfire. In short, Listen, Learn, Lead

  • MIchael Schneider says:

    Matt – among the many lessons from the last decade: governments can’t profess one set of values, and through their actions, directly negate those values. The disconnect is easily seen and rejected by others, especially if their interests are involved. Or to paraphrase the old saying: “A contradiction is worth a thousand professions of faith.”

    • Matt Armstrong says:

      I did emphasize several points, including actions matter and public diplomacy is not magic dust to change the subject. I also highlighted that public diplomacy is based on freedom of information and transparency, highlighting the transparency of our officials (referencing not so indirectly a recent incident in China about Amb. Locke’s financial records, which are public, vice Chinese government officials, which are not) and the impact of domestic politics on public diplomacy (referencing our own civil rights movement). I also raised the issue of reciprocity in the media, among other issues. It was an interesting and informative discussion, and it was actually a discussion, which was nice. It was, as I said in my opening remarks, public diplomacy about public diplomacy.

      Now, to see if I get invited back ;)