The gap between China’s people-to-people exchange policy and its aim to promote understanding among peoples in the world
To share China’s developmental experiences, and oftentimes to showcase Chinese strengths and achievements, Beijing has been conducting what is called people-to-people exchange with other countries. In this regard, Chapter 1, written by Zhuang Liwei, highlights the general features of China’s policy ideas/objectives and policy practices in people-to-people exchange. His prognosis is that there are some discrepancies between the ideas/objectives and practices. Whereas the major emphasis of the practice for the exchange is orchestrated by the government to build up “soft power” by publicity and public and one-way display mainly on culture, the objective of promoting people-to-people interactions is not really implemented. In fact, there is a lack of direct exchange at the grassroots level, and as such, the exchange lacks the social foundation for international understanding. Zhuang suggests that a genuine realization of understanding among people “requires full activation and use of the power of non-governmental organizations and the formation of transnational civil societies”. If China wants to work for Xi Jinping’s grand plan on a community with a shared future for mankind, Zhuang would emphasize that working together and people-to-people contact conducted by transnational NGOs and civil societies could be an important way to build community. In light of the backlashes against some of the projects promoted by China’s BRI, it is most pertinent to note Zhuang’s analysis that the one-way people-to-people exchange should be coupled with an understanding of the concerns, aspirations, and demands of the people at the grassroots level in the host countries along the Silk Roads.