Academic journal article International Journal of China Studies

Cyber Public Diplomacy as China's Smart Power Strategy in an Information Age: Case Study of Anti-Carrefour Incident in 2008

Academic journal article International Journal of China Studies

Cyber Public Diplomacy as China's Smart Power Strategy in an Information Age: Case Study of Anti-Carrefour Incident in 2008

Article excerpt

Abstract

The Internet and related technologies have played a decisive role in both enhancing productivity in business and facilitating the sociopolitical development of the last decade of the twentieth century. The increase in use of these highly networked modern technologies is also leading to the rise of many new global issues. In the case of China, the government is attempting to use this new technology to bridge the digital divide with the developed world and leapfrog into the advanced information industry. At the same time it is also developing information policies to suit its political interests. This article argues that China's promotion of information is by its nature a "softpower" strategy, and further that this strategy has become one of China's most important governing mechanisms in the modern Information Age.

This article begins with a general literature review on notions of softpower, smart power, and public diplomacy, laying the foundation for the subsequent discussion on China's application of these tools into its governance. It further focuses on China's emerging state-society relations in the Internet Age, focusing largely from citizens' online participation. To approach this issue, a case study of the "Anti-Carrefour Incident" is examined to show China's smart power strategy as incorporating both softpower and public diplomacy. Along with the rising power of citizens' discourse power, the effectiveness and constraint of China's smart power in the modern era of globalisation are also discussed.

Keywords: softpower, smart power, public diplomacy, cyber public diplomacy, anti-Carrefour incident

JEL classification: F51, F59, N45

(ProQuest: ... denotes non-US-ASCII text omitted.)

1. Introduction: Understanding SoftPower, Smart Power and Public Diplomacy

In 1990 Joseph Nye proposed the idea of "softpower" with the publication of SoftPower: The Means to Success in World Politics.1 This book led to a wave of discussion on softpower in the field of international relations. Nye classified softpower as the ability to affect others behaviour and accomplish individual aims. Hard power on the other hand aims to achieve goals through the use or threat of force. The softpower resources of a nation lie in its culture (their appeal to others), political values (when they are consistent both home and abroad), and its diplomacy (when it is legal, and has moral authority). Nye and Melissen indicated that softpower should be promoted through the use of "public diplomacy", while Mark Leonard showed how softpower and public diplomacy are intricately linked with his three dimensions of public diplomacy in news management, strategic communications, and relationship building, all being forms of softpower as described by Nye. Nye further argued that countries should not depend solely on either hard power or softpower; instead they should integrate both of these forms of power to create "smart power"2 as the new tool of public diplomacy.3

Public diplomacy as a tool of governance was first proposed by Murrow, the former minister of the US Information Agency (USIA), commonly considered to be the propaganda mouthpiece of the government. In a 1963 speech, Murrow stated that the difference between public diplomacy and traditional diplomacy was that the actors are not merely the government, but also non-governmental individuals or organizations. Following from this, Manheim re-classified diplomacy as having four distinct forms in government to government, diplomat to diplomat, people to people, and government to people, and emphasized that public diplomacy should be treated as an important part of foreign affairs.

Evan Potter indicated that, "Public diplomacy4 is the behaviour through which a government attempts to affect the opinion of people or elites from other countries, aiming to make the actions of the target country favourable for the concerned government. To promote their national objectives and gain benefits for the public, governments use several methods such as international broadcasting, cultivation of foreign reporters and scholars, cultural activities, educational exchanges and scholarships, planned visits and meetings, and publications". …

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