Our round-up of news, notes, tips, and tweets exhibiting how public diplomacy affects the world each and every day.
Did the Taiwanese government’s violent reaction to protests over a trade bill with China significantly damage the country’s soft power as a Chinese democracy?
Taiwan’s soft power capacity is enormous yet, as I have argued for almost twenty years in my articles, book chapters and blog posts on the subject, this capacity is underestimated by Taiwan’s political elites. In choosing to respond with violence to the peaceful protests in Taipei on 23 March, President Ma Ying-jeou’s government has risked the soft power capital it has accumulated in three decades as the first Chinese democracy. What has always set Taiwan apart from the People’s Republic of China is its attitude towards democratic processes, institutions and communication; and while we can easily find flaws in all these political arrangements – Taiwan is still a juvenile democracy still finding its way after all – we note the level of tolerance for dissent, popular protest and participation. Only recently, pro-unification activists have waved the PRC flag outside Taipei 101 without facing any criminal penalties for doing so. In this way, Taiwan has been able to set itself apart from the PRC where popular protest and participation in the political process is either managed by the state or is suppressed all together. Try waving the ROC flag in Tiananmen Square and you will soon experience the differences that separate the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. [China Policy Institute Blog]
Another country goes the soft power route in their response to the situation in Ukraine: Poland pledges $100 million fund to support Ukranian start-ups.
Poland is to put $100 million (300 million Zloty) into supporting small Ukrainian companies, which will obviously include tech companies by implication, and allow more Ukrainian companies to list on its stock exchange … The new fund will employ the experience gained from the cooperation of the Polish-American Enterprise Fund supporting entrepreneurship, said Olgierd Dziekoński, a Polish government minister. That fund was used in the early part of the century to help Poland emerge economically from its post-Soviet experience. [Tech Crunch via PDiN]
— Kevin Barta (@Kevin_Barta) March 25, 2014
Looks like the gastrodiplomacy agenda is set as stories trickle through the different tiers of media outlets.
“Noodle diplomacy” and “chopstick diplomacy” may be new phrases, but the concept that food and diplomacy go together is as old as, well, food. Even the ancient Romans knew the best way to make peace with an enemy was to share a good meal. It’s just taken us until relatively recently to come up with a word for it: gastrodiplomacy. But now that we’ve got one, we’re not wasting time. At least five countries — Thailand, South Korea, Peru, Taiwan and the United States — have “official” culinary diplomacy programs, and colleges are even teaching courses in the how to eat your way to cultural understanding. [Global Post]
— ChinaFile (@ChinaFile) March 25, 2014
Much like the Lunar New Year (or, the Chinese New Year, if you just listen to the Chinese government), the increased awareness of Nowruz—the Persian New Year—creates ample opportunities for cultural diplomacy events.
Today, Nowruz has been recognized by the international community as a worldwide cultural event with significant social and political implications. Even though many nations observe and enshrine this festival, its origins and roots belong to Iranians, so leaders from different Western countries seize the opportunity of Nowruz every year to reach out to the Iranian people and send political messages to them. For instance, the U.S. presidents in the recent years have regularly recorded video messages addressed to the Iranian people on the occasion of the Persian New Year. This message includes their plans and ambitions for strengthening and repairing the long-marred relations between Iran and the United States. [International Policy Digest]
— Politics (@JournalPolitics) March 25, 2014
There is nothing revelatory in this explainer on digital diplomacy, but it is interesting to see the Australian government’s perspective on it.
But while the American e-diplomacy program is well advanced, most Western countries, including Australia, still lag well behind the US in their digital skills and outreach. ‘We are not at the forefront of it and we do not apologise for that. We do not have the resources to do it,’ the then head of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Dennis Richardson, conceded to a Senate committee hearing in 2012, before adding: ‘If I had additional resources now, that is not where I would allocate those additional resources. I would put people into western China before I established an office of e-diplomacy.’ [ABC]
— SU Public Diplomacy (@suPD) March 25, 2014
To be honest: not exactly sure what relation Radzima may have to the Belarusian government. However, interesting (and familiar) verbiage used here for improving relations between Russia and Belarus.
“In modern-day conditions people’s cultural diplomacy plays a very important role. Sometimes it is more efficient than political and official contacts. It comes in handy when there are no platform, no basis for cooperation,” Maxim Dubenok said. According to various estimates, up to 3.5 million Belarusians live abroad, the majority of them live on the territory of Russia. Maxim Dubenok noted that Belarusians living in Russia are willing to cooperate in preserving Belarusian traditions and promoting Belarus in Russia. “Belarusians living in Russia seek to engage young people, not only ethnic Belarusians, but all young people interested in the Belarusian culture. Promoting cooperation between the youth of the two countries is among the biggest priorities,” Chairman of the Radzima NGO said. Work is underway to return home national historical and cultural valuables that were lost or taken outside Belarus. These efforts allow preserving the cultural heritage of Belarusians. [BelTA]
— USC Public Diplomacy (@PublicDiplomacy) March 25, 2014
photo credit: Stringer/Taiwan/Reuters