Shortwave radio was a mainstay of international news and information programs. It was the “new media” embraced to bypass and overcome the censorship of cables, the “old media.” This was particularly true in the United States. Radio broadcasting was seen as such an important and critical element to our national security a century ago that the Secretary of the Navy, a newspaper owner interested in the psychological defense of the nation, tried several times to nationalize wireless transmitters. He may have failed, but he contributed to forcing a British firm to sell their U.S. broadcasting assets which became the Radio Corporation of America. Indicative of the importance of the medium, RCA voting stock could only be owned by U.S. citizens, a restriction that was not removed until the 1980s.Continue reading “Shortwave Radio: Reaching Dissidents in China? Good theory, but… “
By Roseline Twagiramariya
Even if you’ve been living under a rock, chances are you have heard about China’s impressive economic growth and its continuing rise as an important global player. A few weeks ago, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee released an informative report on the disparities between Chinese and American public diplomacy activities today. Most importantly, the report, commissioned by Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), the Ranking Member of the Committee, gave a clear and concise look at China’s current rebranding strategies. Aware of its current spotlight and of its negative perceptions abroad, China has heavily invested in their soft power in hopes to ameliorate their image and be seen as less of a threat during their economic expansion. However, having read the report and other articles about China’s so-called “peaceful development”, it’s easy to see how China could very well be standing in their own way. In terms of country branding, their initiative lacks one key factor and that is truthfulness.
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).
- Whither Public Diplomacy? A discussion on Chinese public diplomacy surrounding President Hu Jintao’s January 2011 visit to the U.S.
- China and American Public Diplomacy: Another US Deficit, a post on the draft version of the report.
- Senate Report on the Broadcasting Board of Governors by Senator Lugar
- Make Knowledge about America Accessible: Move the Libraries Outside the Walls by Senator Lugar
Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) will publish another major report on public diplomacy shortly. Written by Paul Foldi, senior professional staff on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, this report focuses on Chinese public diplomacy with the inevitable comparison to U.S. efforts. I was given a sneak peak at the report. It comes at a time when tough talk in Congress on the State Department’s budget could benefit from such an analysis of a country that is both a major competitor and partner across all aspects of national power and daily life.
This report is another in-depth investigation and commentary on a critical aspect of U.S. global engagement. It focuses on the China-United States exchange. This is the third report sponsored by Senator Lugar to reinvigorate public diplomacy. While the other two were on the Broadcasting Board of Governors (6/2010) and the American Centers (2/2009), this report focused primarily on China. The effect serves to expose not only the broad, extended, and expensive effort of the Chinese to engage foreign audiences, it also highlights opportunities and failed opportunities for the U.S.
In the debate over what is and is not public diplomacy, here’s another example to throw into the mix. In 2009, the ad agency for Nike China won an award for its series on Liu Xiang, a Chinese phenom in the hurdles. Liu carried the inspirations of China into the Beijing Olympic games in 2008. In the qualifying heat for the 110-meter hurdles, however, he suffered a severe and debilitating injury. He left the stadium and comments like ““This is such a disgrace for China” followed him. The Chinese government had invested heavily in Liu as a star for China: he was the first Chinese (or Asian) to win gold in the hurdles, with a world record in the 110 at Athens. But now, Liu was done.
For the practice, theory and organization of public diplomacy, is it helpful for the activities of a foreign government – or non-governmental organization for that matter – in the United States (or elsewhere) to be labeled as public diplomacy? Applying this label could contribute to increased understanding of public diplomacy’s methods and value in the Congress, the White House, the public and the media? Or it could be a harmful link to foreign “propaganda” and our own engagement efforts abroad?
The Johns Hopkins University / Applied Physics Laboratory announced the 7th year of its Rethinking Seminar Series. This year’s theme is Rethinking the Future International Security Environment and the objective is the “exploration of possible future international environments including potential adversaries and threats to US National Security.” Topics to be covered include:
- Regional areas of concern (i.e., the Middle East, China, Russia, and N. Korea)
- Economics and National Security through examinations of potential economic threats to the US and her allies including:
- The use of sovereign wealth funds to manipulate markets and currencies
- Nation state economic collapse, sovereign default, and nation state instability
- US and Allies’ budgets, deficits and their ability/inability to fund robust national security infrastructures
- Resource Competition and Scarcity including issues of energy, water, agriculture and strategic minerals competition
The free events will occur about every month near the Pentagon. Video, audio, and usually the presentation and even notes are posted to the web about one week after each meeting.
Despite its pervasiveness in our daily lives, from social media to electrical networks to banking, the critical nature of the online remains ill-understood or appreciated. “Cyberspace,” a recent report asserts, “remains inadequately defended, policed and indeed comprehended.” This is the conclusion of Alex Michael, a researcher for the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom. In Cyber Probing: The Politicisation of Virtual Attack, Alex dispels the comfortable belief – expressed in practice and conceptualization of online and new media – that the cyber world is somehow separate from the “real” world. In fact, they are simply new tools used for traditional activities. Cyber attacks, Alex points out, are used “in conjunction with many other forms of pressure, ranging from physical protest to social and diplomatic approaches, to influence the target and attempt to force its hand.” The Stuxnet worm reinforces Alex’s premise.
Earlier this month, Aljazeera screened a movie titled The Colony by Brent Huffman and Xiaoli Zhou. Huffman and Zhou explored the “onslaught of Chinese economic might and its impact on long-standing African traditions.” This economic colonization, hence the title of the film, is not without its pitfalls with minimal assimilation, integration, or perception of mutual benefit. As Huffman notes,
Although there is communication between the two sides at a certain level, it is rather limited. Despite various differences in language, culture, and work ethics, the Chinese are not making enough of an effort to integrate into Senegalese society.
Although the Chinese businesses have brought some benefits to the local low-income consumers, their overall presence is viewed with suspicion and hostility by many Senegalese.
Despite the dozens of reports on U.S. public diplomacy, it is actually quite rare to see an in-depth study on public diplomacy, particularly in the areas of government broadcasting. The “too many” reports have often focused on specific cogs without regard to their place in the greater bureaucratic machine that spans the whole of whatever government the agency happens to be in. Even more rare is an in-depth public analysis of the public diplomacy of another country by another country. This week, an Australian think tank, the Lowy Institute, published such a report.
This report, International broadcasting and its contribution to public diplomacy by Annmaree O’Keeffe and Alex Oliver, is focused on the argument Australia’s government broadcasting needs to be taken seriously and properly funded. In supporting this argument, the authors smartly look at how broadcasting fits into the whole of government public diplomacy efforts as well as examines the activities of peer countries.
Last month, China hosted an event for Information Ministers from twenty developing countries titled “Actively Guiding Public Opinion and Building up Sound National Image.” According to Sierra Leone News:
The workshop focused on the cooperation and development between the Chinese and foreign media and information department encompassing political, economic, cultural and social aspects.
Participants raised grave concern about the negative media coverage given to developing countries despite efforts of these countries to match up with modern standards.
The Secretary General of the Information office in China, Mr. Feng Xwang said the western media controls the voice of news report thereby failing to report on the social life of the people. He said Africa, Asia and South America should join forces with China to strengthen their media landscape and bring new opportunities to the media sector.
Vice Minister of the Information Office in Beijing, China, Professor Wang Zhong Wei in his presentation threw light on the rapid development of the Chinese media industry over the last three decades. He said that their media industry has become dynamic, best structured in terms of content and diversity. He said the Chinese information office is ready to embrace collaboration with other media organizations in developing countries to assist in the re-branding of developing nations.
In her contribution, Sierra Leone Deputy Information and Communication Minister suggested the establishment of an African Radio and Television station that would help tell the stories of developing countries better.
[Deputy Information of Information] Madam Saidata Sesay informed her colleagues that her government has recently transformed the then only government mouth piece radio and TV station to a public corporation in the interest of good governance. She appealed to the Chinese Information Office to reactivate the Sierra Leone News Agency (SLENA) and to assist in the establishment of a media center which she believed would enhance media development and capacity building in that profession.
“For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.” -Sun Tzu
Timothy Walton has an interesting paper entitled “Treble Spyglass, Treble Spear?: China’s Three Warfares” (385kb PDF) in the Winter issue of Defense Concepts, a journal put out by the Center for Advanced Defense Studies.
The paper essentially describes the Chinese as adjusting military strategy to incorporate all of the elements of power. In the U.S., this is called DIME, for Diplomacy, Information, Military, and Economic (or the expanded version that never gained the same traction: DIMELIF, DIME + Finance, Intelligence, Law Enforcement). Still, if you are interested in China, this is worth a read.
Other resources on the subject I strongly recommend are:
- Dragon Bytes: Chinese Information War Theory and Practice from 1995-2003 by Tim Thomas (contact me to link you to Tim)
- Decoding The Virtual Dragon – Critical Evolutions In The Science And Philosophy Of China’s Information Operations And Military Strategy, also by Tim Thomas.
- Peaceful Rise through Unrestricted Warfare: Grand Strategy with Chinese Characteristics by Tony Corn at Small Wars Journal.
- “China Info Warfare“, a brief post by Bill Gertz on a Chinese book “Information Warfare Theory”.
Excerpts from Walton’s paper:
In the latest issue of the Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael‘s Discussion Papers in Diplomacy, China is featured in a paper titled “The Shanghai Cooperation Organization and China’s New Diplomacy” by Gao Fei, an expert on contemporary Chinese diplomacy and Russian affairs.
According to Clingendael:
This article offers a Chinese perspective of the elements and approaches of what is often called China’s ‘New Diplomacy’ and argues that China’s involvement in the development of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) can be regarded as an exemplary case of ‘China’s New Diplomacy.’ The article furthermore aims to contribute to the understanding of China’s emerging role in the international multilateral arena.
The concepts that together form China’s New Diplomacy, such as the New Security Concept, the New Development Approach, and the Harmonious World, have not only been brought into practice in China’s diplomacy towards the SCO but have also been adopted as principles for conducting diplomacy within the SCO. The SCO–and its predecessor, the Shanghai Five mechanism–started as a low profile organization which focused on building trust and solving security issues but has gradually grown into a serious regional organization which aims at mutually beneficial cooperation in the fields of politics, security, the economy, trade and energy.
Clingendael’s Discussion Papers in Diplomacy is a series focusing on diplomacy “as the mechanism of communication, negotiation and representation between states and other international actors.” Papers published since 2003 are available for download (PDF) on Clingendael’s site. Previous paper topics include: cultural diplomacy, nation branding, EU public diplomacy, and commercial diplomacy.
In 2000, China Central Television (CCTV) launched CCTV International, its 24-hour English-language news service aimed for the global audience. CCTV’s international broadcasting has since expanded to cover news -from a Chinese perspective- in French, Spanish, Russian, and since 2009, Arabic.
On July 1, 2010, China launched another international English language news channel to expand its soft power. According to a July 2, 2010 article from The Guardian by Tania Branigan, Chinese authorities hope the launch of state news agency Xinhua‘s CNC World channel will help promote China’s image and perspectives. Similar to CCTV’s international objective, Xinhua’s president said CNC would “present an international vision with a China perspective.” Currently, CNC world is airing only in Hong Kong and after its scheduled launch of global satellite coverage this fall, it hopes to reach 50 million viewers across Europe, North America and Africa in its first year.
Despite CCTV’s international presence, Chinese officials believe creating competition will raise standards of news coverage. In her article, Branigan challenges this notion and identifies CNC World’s stock footage, dated credits, sparse interviews, and “glimpses of the alternative news agenda that officials want to spread.” Still, Xinhua pledges objectivity and insists: “We are a news channel, not a propaganda station.”
In his article, “Attack or Defend? Leveraging Information and Balancing Risk in Cyberspace,” Dennis Murphy discusses the Department of Defense’s policy toward the Internet, which enables opportunities to counter misinformation online and tell the story of the U.S. military. He questions, however, if organizational culture will embrace this approach.Murphy, a professor of Information Operations and Information in Warfare at the U.S. Army War College and retired U.S. Army colonel, notes the government must consider the use of the Internet by a potential adversary in future warfighting challenges. Although military leaders openly regard the importance of using new media and Internet tools, recent Defense Department policy directs commanders to continue to carefully monitor online behaviors.
Murphy recommends that leaders manage risk online while exploiting emerging cyber capabilities. Specifically, managing risk while providing the opportunity to engage effectively and exploit online opportunities requires a rebalancing of command philosophy, Murphy says. This can happen when commanders become more open to opportunities as they remain aware of threats – and let leaders at all levels do their job.
Click here to read the full article.
On May 27, 2010, The National published an article about China’s engagement strategy, carried out by state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV), toward Arab television viewers in the Middle East and North Africa.
Many countries broadcast to the Middle East in Arabic, including France, Russia, and the U.S., but China is different: it broadcasts, from Beijing, to the region in Chinese with Arabic subtitles. Instead of focusing on news and current events in the Middle East, CCTV highlights Chinese culture and the arts. Simply, “…CCTV Arabic aims to tell the Arab world about China.“
In his article, Daniel Bardsley further describes China’s strategy, which involves voicing the views of the Chinese government. This approach allows China to “…extend its ‘soft power’ without becoming entangled in the region’s politics,” which reflects China’s non-intervention culture.
Now a world power, China ambitiously aims to be part of the mainstream international media alongside CNN and BBC. This year, China will also reach milestones in its international broadcasting efforts as CCTV Arabic will mark its first anniversary in July and CCTV plans to open news bureaus in the Middle East later this year.
Below is an excerpt from a must-read post at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy by Cynthia Schneider and Hailey Woldt on America’s “contribution” to the World Expo now underway in China.
Let’s begin with the positive: the United States is present at the World Expo in Shanghai. The Secretary of State deserves praise for making this possible, by launching an eleventh hour fundraising drive, after the previous administration had done virtually nothing (besides rejecting a proposal that included Frank Gehry as architect). The Chinese cared enough about the U.S. presence to have contributed both public and private funds to guarantee that the U.S. showed up for Expo Shanghai 2010.
In this age of globalization and social networking, a World Expo might seem a quaint throwback to a bygone era. But for many countries, including, notably, China, it offers a global platform to present strengths and salient characteristics to the world. For example, Japan, known for its technology, powers its “green” pavilion partly from the footsteps of visitors who are treated to violin-playing robots, a single-person prototype car by Toyota, as well as a historical exhibition on Japan’s envoys to China. In its pavilion, Indonesia highlights cultural diversity; the United Arab Emirates emphasizes sustainability, a key focus of the country, with a recyclable dune shaped pavilion. Almost without exception the pavilions dazzle with innovative architecture, and with unusual shapes, colors, and lighting, as in the case of the United Kingdom’s pavilion— a futuristic display of 60,000 transparent fiberglass rods with different seeds enclosed at the ends, designed by British artist Thomas Heatherwick.
China: 60, US: 0
Nicholas Kralev reports at The Washington Times that Congress is expressing its concern at the disparity between the number of cultural centers China and the US have permitted in each others countries. While China has setup 60 in the US, it is currently permitting only four to be built. At present, there are no such US centers in China.
By Carson Thomas Checketts
“When ideas fail, words come in very handy.” – Goethe
Something or someone in the PRC has failed. China’s attempts to attack Google betray a deep discomfort with the PRC’s own decision to ban the worlds leading technology leader from its shores. Perhaps, given Goethe’s insight, it’s fair to say that the PRC’s “ideas” have failed so it is now resorting to all it has left: words. Despite a widely shared international consensus among academics that an industrial revolution remains hollow without a transition to a services and information based economy, China has turned its back on its own modernization. This change has many implications for the world, but perhaps the most significant is that the Google decision shows who really holds the cards in the PRC’s inner circle. It would appear the less educated military may have moved from a position of moderate influence into the inner circle, where their paranoia has apparently convinced China that technology is what ancients called a “Greek gift,” intended to harm rather than enlighten the recipient.
To be completely crass, disaster relief and humanitarian aid is huge opportunity to score points with locals. It is, however, best when it is not done blatantly, but making it clear where the aid was coming from both gives your side points and potentially denies opportunities to competitors.
Reading The New York Times on my Blackberry Thursday morning, the article “Haiti Lies in Ruins; Grim Search for Untold Dead” by Simon Romero and Marc Lacey, dated January 14, 2010, struck a nerve. These are the first two paragraphs as they still read on my Blackberry:
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Foreign aid trickled into Haiti’s devastated capital on Thursday morning as the victims of Tuesday’s earthquake, many of them injured and homeless, began to wake from another night spent in makeshift accommodations or out in the open.
A China Air plane landed early Thursday with a search team, medical workers and aid, The Associated Press reported. …