East Asia – The Public Diplomat http://thepublicdiplomat.com a dialogue about public diplomacy Thu, 22 Sep 2016 12:11:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.10 PDcast #20: China’s Environmental Diplomacy & Russia in Bangladesh http://thepublicdiplomat.com/2014/04/04/pdcast-20-chinas-environmental-diplomacy-russia-in-bangladesh/ Fri, 04 Apr 2014 16:41:54 +0000 http://thepublicdiplomat.com/?p=1565 China has a public diplomacy opportunity in its renewable energy push; and, Russia reboots interest in Bangladesh.

The PDcast is a weekly podcast featuring Jennifer OsiasAdam Cyr, and Michael Ardaiolo discussing the trending public diplomacy topics. Subscribe now in iTunes.

The conversation continues using @Public_Diplomat and #PDcast. Send us your questions, comments and suggestions throughout the week, and we will use them for the next show.


Topic 1: China’s potential use of environmental diplomacy

To read:

China’s Renewable Energy Opportunity | The Diplomat


Topic 2: Russia’s diplomatic re-entry into Bangladesh

To read:

‘Russia coming back to Bangladesh’ | BDnews 24



Adam: UT–State Department Program to Host Olympian Michelle Kwan, Foreign Athletes and Coaches | Tennessee Today

Jennifer: US State Department Releases Digital Publication on ‘American Muslims’ | ISLAMiCommentary

Michael: US Secretly Created ‘Cuban Twitter’ to Stir Unrest | AP


photo credit: BBC

PDcast #18: First Lady Public Diplomacy http://thepublicdiplomat.com/2014/03/21/pdcast-18-first-lady-public-diplomacy/ Fri, 21 Mar 2014 16:42:37 +0000 http://thepublicdiplomat.com/?p=1493 As First Lady, Michelle Obama is in a position of great global influence; how well does she wield public diplomacy?

The PDcast is a weekly podcast featuring Jennifer Osias, Timi KomoniboAdam Cyr, and Michael Ardaiolo discussing the trending public diplomacy topics. Subscribe now in iTunes.

The conversation continues using @Public_Diplomat and #PDcast. Send us your questions, comments and suggestions throughout the week, and we will use them for the next show.


Topic: The Public Diplomacy of Michelle Obama

Sub-topic 1: Michelle Obama’s Fashion Diplomacy

To read:

Michelle Obama: The Art of Fashion Diplomacy | Elan


Sub-topic 2: Michelle Obama’s trip to China

To read:

Everything you need to know about Michelle Obama’s trip to China | Washington Post

Michelle Obama’s China Choice: Public Diplomacy vs. Politics | Council on Foreign Relations

What Should Michelle Obama Accomplish on Her Trip to China? | ChinaFile



Adam: Chelsea’s Roman Abramovich & Arsenal’s Alisher Usmanov need to be punished, says Putin critic to the NY Times | 101 Great Goals

How to Punish Putin | New York Times

Jennifer: Findery

Timi: Realize fashion diplomacy must be done in conjunction with a strategic communication plan

Michael: How Cold War-Hungry Neocons Stage Managed RT Anchor Liz Wahl’s Resignation | TruthDig

An Afternoon With Liz Wahl, the Reporter Who Quit RT and Hasn’t Heard the End of It | Slate


photo credit: Reuters

PDcast #12: The Role of the Ambassador in Public Diplomacy http://thepublicdiplomat.com/2014/01/31/pdcast-12-the-role-of-the-ambassador-in-public-diplomacy/ Fri, 31 Jan 2014 16:00:20 +0000 http://thepublicdiplomat.com/?p=1180 The ambassador has many roles to play, but should the main public diplomacy role be of advocacy or practicalities.

The PDcast is a weekly podcast featuring Jennifer Osias (sitting in for Julia Watson), Adam Cyr and Michael Ardaiolo discussing the trending public diplomacy topics. Subscribe now in iTunes.

The conversation continues using @Public_Diplomat and #PDcast. Send us your questions, comments and suggestions throughout the week, and we will use them for the next show.


Topic 1: Ambassador Caroline Kennedy’s frank tweets in Japan

To Read:

Star Envoy’s Frankness Puts Kennedy Mystique to Test in Japan | New York Times, Martin Fackler

Keep Tweeting, Ambassador Kennedy | Huffington Post, Nancy Snow


Topic 2: Ambassador Gary Locke’s “by-the-numbers” tour in China

To Read:

Gary Locke by-the-numbers tour as ambassador to China is nearing an end | Washington Post, William Wan



Adam: President Obama’s State of the Union address

Jennifer: @suPD

Michael: Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project


photo credit: Reuters/Clodagh Kilcoyne

[LISTEN] CPD’s Top 10 Public Diplomacy Stories in 2013 http://thepublicdiplomat.com/2014/01/24/listen-cpds-top-10-public-diplomacy-stories-in-2013/ Fri, 24 Jan 2014 15:00:06 +0000 http://thepublicdiplomat.com/?p=1126 Using a mix of data and expert opinion, CPD narrowed down the most important stories to public diplomacy for 2013.


Michael Ardaiolo discusses the USC Center on Public Diplomacy’s top 10 public diplomacy stories for 2013 with Naomi Leight.

Naomi Leight is the Assistant Director for Research & Publications at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy and is responsible for managing all aspects of the Center’s research and publications programs. She oversees the CPD Perspectives on Public Diplomacy – a monograph series written by CPD staff, fellows, visiting scholars and practitioners showcasing critical thinking about the study and practice of public diplomacy. And she also manages the CPD Blog, the Public Diplomacy in the News aggregation team (PDiN), as well as the PDiN Monitor, a review and analysis of current public diplomacy news.

PDcast #9: Looking Forward to 2014 http://thepublicdiplomat.com/2013/12/13/pdcast-9-looking-forward-to-2014/ Fri, 13 Dec 2013 15:00:28 +0000 http://thepublicdiplomat.com/?p=1009 We look toward 2014 and discuss our predictions, fears and hopes for the public diplomacy field in the year ahead.

The PDcast is a weekly podcast featuring Julia WatsonAdam Cyr and Michael Ardaiolo discussing the trending public diplomacy topics. Subscribe now in iTunes.

The conversation continues using @Public_Diplomat and #PDcast. Send us your questions, comments and suggestions throughout the week, and we will use them for the next show.


Topic: Our hopes and predictions for public diplomacy in 2014.

What’s Black, White & Soft Power All Over? http://thepublicdiplomat.com/2013/12/04/whats-black-white-soft-power-all-over/ Wed, 04 Dec 2013 15:00:36 +0000 http://thepublicdiplomat.com/?p=949 Let’s just face it: panda diplomacy works. It’s the softest of soft power and China has no qualms exploiting that.

Apparently China’s decision to share the adorableness that is the giant panda with zoos across the globe is a strategic calculation to garner the world’s goodwill. The Chinese government hopes that the warm fuzzy feelings toward pandas transfers to positive goodwill toward China as well. Well, China, mission accomplished. There’s not a whole lot that the residents of Washington, D.C. can agree on, but Republicans and Democrats alike are panda crazy for the National Zoo’s new panda cub, born in August earlier this year.

Origins of Panda Diplomacy

Panda Diplomacy, as with most practices in China, is nothing new. The country has used giant pandas as gifts to other countries since Empress Wu Zetian and the Tang Dynasty. In the 1950s, the practice returned, and over the next thirty years the People’s Republic of China gifted 23 pandas to nine countries.

The United States received its first two pandas in April 1972 following President Nixon’s historic visit to China. These pandas were gifts, symbolizing a new, positive relationship between the two countries. (In return, the United States gave China musk oxen—apparently we’re horrible reciprocating gift givers). The pandas were almost named Ping and Pong as an homage to the two nations’ first public diplomacy engagement, Ping Pong Diplomacy, but ultimately named Ling Ling and Hsing Hsing.

Modern Panda Diplomacy

According to a recent article by Business Insider, the second era of Panda Diplomacy focused less on friendships and more on economics. Following Deng Xiaoping’s rise to power in 1978, gifts became financial transactions. In 2000, America negotiated a deal with China to replace their original pandas, which died in the late 1990s. In return for a 10-year loan of two pandas, Tian Tian and Mei Xiang, America paid $18 million dollars (though half is required to fund panda conservation efforts).

According to a new study done by Oxford University, in the emerging third era, panda loans are now associated with nations supplying China with valuable resources—as Scotland recently did—or symbolize China’s attempts to diffuse hostile political relations—like it did with Taiwan with mild success.

Tai Shan

In 2005, the first panda cub was born in Washington, D.C. The cub was officially named Tai Shan, but locals affectionately called the panda ‘Butterstick’ after a zoo worker described him as being about the size of a stick of butter when he was born. This panda cub caused a pandemonium (pun absolutely intended) with tickets selling out, the zoo panda live video stream crashing, and panda products flying off the shelf. But what China gives, it can also take away: China recalled Tai Shan and another U.S.-born panda cub (Mei Lian from the Atlanta zoo) in 2010, two days after President Barack Obama decided to meet the Dalai Lama against the wishes of the Chinese government.

What’s in a name?

Even choosing a name for a panda is an act of diplomatic theater. The American public gets to choose the name for the newest member of the National Zoo’s panda family from five options submitted by prestigious representatives. The U.S. Ambassador to China, the Chinese Ambassador to the United States, National Zoo giant panda keepers in D.C., the Wolong Nature Reserve and Breeding Center giant panda keepers in China, and the Friends of the National Zoo submitted one option each.

Update: Bao Bao wins!

Robust relationships

The results of panda diplomacy? Pretty impressive. In addition to diplomatic and economic relationships between the two countries, Chinese and American scientists benefit. Scientists collaborate by studying pandas together: their mating behavior, their environment and, ultimately, the survival of an endangered species, all of which forges strong strategic partnerships and contributes to worldwide conservation efforts.

Everybody loves a panda. They’re cute and cuddly, and as a result China’s laughing all the way to the bank and stockpiling hordes of soft power.


photo credit: Smithsonian’s National Zoo

The PDcast #7: Soft Power & Humanitarian Aid http://thepublicdiplomat.com/2013/11/22/the-pdcast-7-soft-power-humanitarian-aid/ Fri, 22 Nov 2013 15:00:23 +0000 http://thepublicdiplomat.com/?p=918 Can soft power politics be teased out of humanitarian aid? And our suggestion for Monocle’s Soft Power Survey 2013.

The PDcast is a weekly podcast featuring Julia WatsonAdam Cyr and Michael Ardaiolo discussing the trending public diplomacy topics. Subscribe now in iTunes.

The conversation continues using @Public_Diplomat and #PDcast. Send us your questions, comments and suggestions throughout the week, and we will use them for the next show.


Topic 1: Humanitarian aid as soft power / Hard power as soft power

Read more:

For Philippine relief, China beat by Ikea, Coke | AP, Christopher Bodeen

China’s Revealing Typhoon Haiyan Response | The Diplomat, Daniel Baltrusaitis

Chinese Soft Power: Another Typhoon Haiyan Victim | The Diplomat, James R. Holmes

China Increases Aid to Philippines | New York Times, Jane Perlez

How to Do Soft Power Right | The Diplomat, James R. Holmes

The Military’s Invaluable ‘Soft’ Power | Huffington Post, Jane Harman

Typhoon relief effort boosts U.S. soft power in Asia region | CNN, Peter Shadbolt


Topic 2: Monocle’s Soft Power Survey 2013

To watch:

Soft Power Survey 2013 | Monocle

Monocle’s Top 10:

1. Germany

2. United Kingdom

3. United States

4. France

5. Japan

6. Sweden

7. Australia

8. Switzerland

9. Canada

10. Italy


We then chose our preferred 11-20. What’s yours? Leave a comment with your picks, and we’ll aggregate and compile!

Michael’s 11-20:

11. South Korea

12. Brazil

13. Denmark

14. Singapore

15. Finland

16. Turkey

17. Mexico

18. Nigeria

19. Indonesia

20. China


Julia’s 11-20:

11. China

12. India

13. Russia

14. Brazil

15. South Korea

16. Spain

17. Turkey

18. Qatar

19. Indonesia

20. Mexico


Adam’s 11-20:

11. Denmark

12. Qatar

13. Norway

14. Brazil

15. United Arab Emirates

16. South Korea

17. The Netherlands

18. Austria

19. New Zealand

20. India


photo credit: CNN

Uncool Japan http://thepublicdiplomat.com/2013/11/21/uncool-japan/ Thu, 21 Nov 2013 15:00:54 +0000 http://thepublicdiplomat.com/?p=901 Cool Japan needs rebranding, perhaps in a way that promotes gender equality, economic stimulus and nuclear safety.

this article originally appeared in Metropolis

I blame Douglas McGray. He penned an article for Foreign Policy magazine with a most catchy title: Japan’s Gross National Cool. It was 2002 and McGray announced that Japan was reinventing itself as a superpower of culture. “Over the course of an otherwise dismal decade, Japan has been perfecting the art of transmitting certain kinds of mass culture,” he proclaimed. The Japanese government pounced. It adopted the most unimaginative title, “Cool Japan,” to rev up its commercial footprint in the midst of its economic malaise known as the lost decade. Think of Cool Japan as pre-Abenomics for the runway or maid café set.

In the 21st century, nation-states are obsessed with their brand image. Gross National Propaganda (GNP) is the new public face of globalization. While Marx had his theory of alienation, Cool Japan is about engaging the logo within you. So why pick on Cool Japan? Isn’t everybody doing it?

Cool Japan is anything but. A fundamental rule of persuasion is that if you have to identify yourself or your institution as “cool,” then you aren’t and it isn’t. Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. would have never made the Rat Pack such an American cultural phenomenon if they had announced their coolness at every stop. “Hey cats. Aren’t we cool? Look how we dress, drink on stage, and have bromance banter with one another. Cool, huh?” The Rat Pack allowed others to define their style and manner.

If we go by how others view Japan, this can be a most uncool nation. Young men and women are not coupling as needed for reproducing future generations, women are mostly invisible in executive positions, adult diapers now outnumber baby diapers, people still die from overwork, and doe-eyed fembots are anatomically incorrect. I’ve yet to see such buxom Japanese women who can match the cartoonish dolls that cover the pages of manga in the local Lawson. The leading indicators of Gross National Propaganda present a male geek—or perhaps just male—fantasy of cute femininity to an unreal extreme. Recall Real Women Have Curves. Here in Japan, we need Real Women Transcend Cuteness.

It doesn’t take a Chinese female astronaut to conclude that Cool Japan is a government and industry production directed predominantly by men with a feminine ideal that doesn’t exist. Where are the images and ideas of the women scientists and financial executives, as well as the geek girls who don’t want to be viewed through the narrow confines of pubescent cuteness? I’m not against cuteness, just its monopolization. Why not fund the next Akira Kurosawa or Yasujiro Ozu rather than the next AKB48 spin-off?

Cool Japan is a retread that’s all been done before. Remember the Union Jack outfits on the Spice Girls, the 1990s girl group that took over the world before Kanye and Kardashian? They were part of the UK’s Cool Britannia promotional campaign before Tony Blair became uncool as Bush’s lapdog post-9/11. Hear much about Cool Britannia these days? As soon as Downing Street became too closely associated with BritPop, the end was near.

The same thing could happen to Cool Japan. The Japanese government has announced a USD$500 million spend over 20 years for Cool Japan branding, which was followed by the winning bid for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Prime Minister Abe’s pitch to the IOC in Buenos Aires was a public relations success, though not one steeped in reality. Despite his promise that the situation in Fukushima is “under control,” the disaster-struck region will not be decontaminated until a projected 2017—just three years before the Summer Olympics. If this nuclear elephant in the room isn’t fixed in time, then no public relations or consumer market goods promotion campaign will be able to gloss over the reality of a lost homeland for those displaced by the disaster. And that’s probably the most uncool prospect for Japan.

Risking Soft Power for Message Control http://thepublicdiplomat.com/2013/11/19/risking-soft-power-for-message-control/ Tue, 19 Nov 2013 15:00:34 +0000 http://thepublicdiplomat.com/?p=889 China has invested in soft power considerably, but it risks it all by insisting on complete control of the message.

This week, the China blogosphere was set ablaze over two high profile revelations related to journalism in China.

First, it was reported the Bloomberg buried a scathing investigative story on one of China’s richest men and his ties to the government. The New York-based outlet did this because it was afraid that the negative story could damage its business operations in China.

The second case involved veteran China reporter Paul Mooney being denied a visa to stay in the country. He said in a tweet that in the visa interview, agents asked him about his coverage of human rights and Tibet, issues that a highly sensitive in China.

Both of these stories, breaking in the same week, put a spotlight on journalism in China. Specifically, critics dogged the Communist Party of China (CCP) attempts to control the message of media—and not just the state owned outlets, like China Daily or Global Times.

Controlling the message looks to be counterintuitive for China. Now, every media outlet is reporting this story, after the New York Times, which is blocked in China, broke the Bloomberg story. The cover-up is worse than the crime, goes the old saying.

For a country that invests so considerably in its soft power resources, these failures seem to be ultimately discrediting the rising superpower. The image portrayed after reading articles like the two presented is a morally bankrupted, authoritarianism, and not the harmonious society sold by the CCP.

This soft power resource so craved by the leaders is often rooted in a society’s openness. Joseph Nye, who coined the term soft power, wrote that the US benefited from movies that showed the country in a damming light. Viewers in the Soviet bloc wondered how could a country that allowed this movie, be that bad?

On the contrary, the USSR gained much of its soft power from giving off an air of invincibility. The mystery and secrecy of the Iron Curtain helped these perceptions.

China clearly is not going the route of the U.S. Yet, it isn’t simply hiding behind an Iron Curtain either. The Soviet soft power example does, though, provide a closer comparison for modern China. The CCP’s soft power strategy is to purvey the idea of a prosperous and developed nation, one that is the future economic center of the world.

The two articles that broke this past week might be damaging in the short-term, but the long-term benefits are greater. Part of the Bloomberg piece was that the organization was self-censoring. And with journalist getting their visas denied, how many of them will think twice before penning a damning piece while in China? This natural self-censorship will shape the message to the liking of the CCP.

This strategy has already proven successful in another medium.

In an article from The Guardian, it was reported that China Film Co-Production Company (CFCC) asks that Hollywood make movies that show “positive images” of China, or else face rejection from being co-produced with a Chinese firm, a key factor in being widely released, or released at all, in China.

Hollywood is listening, and self-censoring is becoming commonplace amongst big budget films. Unlike with the newspaper industry, Hollywood only produces a handful of blockbusters every year and all of them want to be released in China. The industry must stick to the CCP guidelines and this is a soft power boon for China.

Soft power is not created through the willingness of filmmakers to yield to CCP demands. The soft power comes from the people who end up seeing these films.

Normal people around the world are watching movies with China portrayed as a developed economic power, a future world leader, and sometimes as a distinct plotline. This is creating the image that the CCP wants to foster. They have to, or they do not get access to the markets.

“I’m from the future. You should go to China,” says Jeff Daniels character in the movie Looper, a movie that was widely successful in China.

Illustrating this, a Pew poll released earlier this year showed that a majority of respondents thought that China will pass or has already passed the U.S. as the global super power. Is this life imitating art or just the nature of the actual roles in the world today?

The reality for China is that it has a long way to go. It is still a developing country, one that even receives a large amount of foreign aid. Yet, a majority of people already believes in its super power status. Popular movies have helped spread this message. Self-censorship by other journalist and their agencies will factor into this message too.

Despite the short-term soft power fails, the long-term gamble is paying off for China.

Expect to see more self-censorship by various media outlets. Expect more denied visas for journalists. Expect to see more summer popcorn flicks with Chinese characters and plot points. Expect all of this because the CCP’s attempts to control the message are working.


photo credit: Frederic J. Brown/Agence France-Presse

The PDcast #4: Is Branding Fascism? http://thepublicdiplomat.com/2013/11/01/the-pdcast-4-is-branding-fascism/ Fri, 01 Nov 2013 14:00:39 +0000 http://thepublicdiplomat.com/?p=738 Simon Anholt drops a number of provocative ideas at EuroPCom.  Also, should we add “warm power” to the IR lexicon?

The PDcast is a weekly podcast featuring Julia Watson, Adam Cyr and Michael Ardaiolo discussing the trending public diplomacy topics. Subscribe now in iTunes.

The conversation continues using @Public_Diplomat and #PDcast. Send us your questions, comments and suggestions throughout the week, and we will use them for the next show.


Topic 1: Simon Anholt’s provocative comments at EuroPCom 2013: is branding fascism?



Topic 2: Is “warm power” a viable concept of op-ed fodder?

Read more:

‘Warm power’ heats up China’s relations with neighboring countries | Global Times, Ling Jun


Bonus topic: What American cultural creation should be nominated for the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity?

Read more:

UNESCO to Add Kimchi-Making to Intangible Heritage List | Chosun Ilbo

UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

What are your ideas?


photo credit: Horizont