Monday, December 7, 2015

The 2010 Shanghai World Expo: An Exercise in Public Diplomacy?

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Hall, Karen
 The 2008 Beijing Olympics positioned China firmly on the world stage, as people around the world watched to see how China would perform. Now, in 2010, the Shanghai World Expo once again places China in the spotlight. But this time, the affair is not as one-sided, as the other 242 participating nations and organisations have a chance to have the opportunity to sell their message too. If nations are to sell their messages in an international forum, then the currency they use can only be the phenomenon that is called public diplomacy. Public diplomacy, as such, is an exceedingly popular yet under examined topic in the world international relations. This report investigates the use and effectiveness of public diplomacy at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, by carefully analysing both the Australian and Chinese efforts to suggest new international images, or stereotypes, for themselves. Public diplomacy is a relatively new concept, by comparison to traditional diplomacy, from which it developed in the 1960s in response to the effects of globalisation. Public diplomacy, unlike traditional diplomacy, seeks to persuade and influence not only those in diplomatic postings, but also the citizens of a nation. With globalisation a new paradigm was created which called for a more inclusive approach to world politics, as the general public became more aware of what not only other nations were doing, but also the actions of their own governments. This new awareness, whilst benefitting the ordinary citizen in many ways also made him a target, as other nations sought to influence his perceptions of the world. As this report finds, the nature of public diplomacy - dealing with the thoughts and perceptions of the masses - makes it hard to evaluate the effectiveness of any public diplomacy measures. Yet, that is not to say that judgements as to the effectiveness of public diplomacy cannot or should not be attempted. This report assesses Australian and Chinese public diplomacy at Expo 2010 by three criteria, which have been drawn from the academic debate surrounding this topic. These criteria examine factors such as audience size, whether the message projected is appropriate in its reflection of reality and if the act of public diplomacy is part of a long term project consistent with the nation's foreign policy objectives. At Expo 20 I 0, all participants are given the opportunity to build a pavilion in which to showcase the best of their nation. Using various information sources, such as interviews, media reports, online blogs, the official websites of both the Australian and Chinese pavilions, Parliamentary Committee Reports as well as academic materials, this report outlines the budget, aims and content of the both the Australian and Chinese pavilions. This information allows for a thorough investigation of the above criteria, which leads to some interesting conclusions which demonstrate the two key difficulties associated with effectively practicing public diplomacy...

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