chapter  28
17 Pages

Communicating Confidence

China’s Public Diplomacy
WithGary D. Rawnsley

This chapter assesses how public diplomacy reflects the rapid political, social, and economic changes in China. In particular, the ascendancy of President Xi Jinping, mega-events such as the Shanghai Expo in 2010, the launch of such programmes as the Belt and Road Initiative—reviving the ancient Silk Roads—and a more nationalistic political agenda around the “China Dream” have grown China’s confidence. China’s public diplomacy continues to receive extraordinary levels of investment, while restructuring of its public diplomacy architecture in 2018 created the Voice of China under more centralized control by the Communist Party, all designed to challenge the alleged distorted picture of China overseas. At the same time, the international community remains critical of China’s behavior both at home and overseas, with reports documenting human rights abuses and regular intimidation of Taiwan and Hong Kong. China’s public diplomacy must learn how to square its ambition, confidence, and its desire to reverse a “distorted” picture in the West with the more questionable character of Communist Party rule.