Another US Deficit – China and America – Public Diplomacy in the Age of the Internet

Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN)The Senate Foreign Relations Committee released its report on the imbalance of public diplomacy activities between China and the United States. Entitled “Another U.S. Deficit – China and America – Public Diplomacy in the Age of the Internet,” this is the final version of the report I reviewed on 11 February. Commissioned by Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), the Ranking Member of the Committee, the report is a unique and necessary review of Chinese Government engagement in America. The report also highlights Chinese obstruction of reciprocity and U.S. Government failure to act, notably in the area of information freedom initiatives.

The timing of this report is critical. It comes on the heels of the recent U.S. visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao. More importantly, it comes at a time when the U.S. diplomacy budget, public and otherwise (is there really any diplomacy that is not in some part negotiated in public?), is under threat in today’s austere budget environment. At risk is the development and implementation of smart policies that, coupled with unfettered access to information to create knowledge, ultimately have a greater and more enduring bang for the buck than the kinetic effect of any smart munition.

Senator Lugar closes his letter that opens the report, a 2-page letter that you should read if you do not have the time or inclination to read even the report’s executive summary, with the hope the report will “stimulate dialogue within Congress.” It certainly should.

Read the report here (1.55mb PDF).

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2 Replies to “Another US Deficit – China and America – Public Diplomacy in the Age of the Internet”

  1. Just finished reading the report in its entirety. Though I generally agree with the conclusions and recommendations, I have to admit that I was occasionally disappointed – and once or twice appalled – at the report’s naivete and outright ignorance of conditions in China. Fact is, the entirety of the Chinese propaganda apparatus would give just about anything to have 10% of the cultural penetration that the US enjoys – through film, music, television – in China. That sort of thing drives Beijing batty, and no number of VOA outlets or America centers will ever be able to equal the massive impact that Lady Gaga is having on Chinese culture. That’s a bitter pill for some folks to swallow, I know, but I think it would be better viewed as an opportunity. Our PD efforts shouldn’t be focused on reciprocity and equaling China, but rather complimenting the already powerful penetration of American culture in China. This report, aside, if you asked your average Chinese bureaucrat for an honest answer about who’s winning the PD battle – he’d tell you that the US is, in a landslide.

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