Wednesday, June 17, 2015


In late 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. In a bid to better demonstrate the unique connotation of the “One Belt, One Road” strategy and push forward its orderly implementation, full play should be given to public diplomacy.

Firstly, the core of the “One Belt, One Road” initiatives is “co-construction.” Currently, corresponding projects have been released in most municipalities, provinces and regions of China to embrace the strategic opportunity of “One Belt, One Road.” However, some countries are still watching the strategy.

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“Co-construction” of “One Belt, One Road” is hard to realize if the initiatives are not widely accepted in relevant countries. Public diplomacy should therefore become the strong supplement of the government’s diplomacy. Publicizing “One Belt, One Road” should be a key goal in China’s current diplomacy. “Resonance” of the initiatives among related countries can be strengthened through regional cooperation.

Secondly, the “One Belt, One Road” strategy aims to enhance policy communication, road links, trade ties, currency circulation and people-to-people exchanges, among which policy communication and people-to-people exchanges may be realized through diplomacy. Public diplomacy is an important means for achieving people-to-people exchanges. Meanwhile, new media techniques such as the Internet can push forward the external display of the “One Belt, One Road” initiatives.

Thirdly, with the media dominated by the West and nationalism complex rebounding in some countries, negative reports and comments on “One Belt, One Road” have emerged. For example, questions have been raised over whether China aims to establish regional domination by proposing the initiatives and doubts have surfaced over whether some countries stand to benefit from the strategy. These distortions can be eliminated through public diplomacy.

Public diplomacy has incomparable advantages in demonstrating the “One Belt, One Road” strategy. The strategic connotation of “One Belt, One Road” can be expounded by means of public diplomacy. Relevant countries will gradually understand and take interest in the strategy through wonderful stories.

Public diplomacy can be carried out in multiple ways to promote the “One Belt, One Road” initiatives. The “troika” – or media, think tanks and universities – are nice alternatives in this aspect. There can be two different ways in media diplomacy. On one hand, China’s mainstream media should fully publicize “One Belt, One Road.” Special websites in different languages may be established for the initiatives.

On the other hand, state leaders, diplomats and overseas journalists may write articles or give interviews on mainstream media of target countries. Publicity videos for “One Belt, One Road” may also be made with films of national image as reference and put in influential international media.

While interacting with foreign think tanks, China’s mainstream think tanks should focus on elaborating on the Chinese government’s basic stance of proposing the “One Belt, One Road” strategy, namely to establish a “community of common destiny and benefit.”

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In addition, universities especially those of foreign languages or foreign trade, should take full advantage of academic resources and multiple languages to carry out public diplomacy. More satisfactory effects will be achieved if mainstream media, mainstream think tanks and universities cooperate together and intensify public diplomacy centered on “One Belt, One Road.” However, this requires proper planning and design at a macro level.

All in all, pushing forward the construction of “One Belt and One Road” is of great significance for building a moderately prosperous society and realizing the “Chinese Dream” of great national rejuvenation. Public diplomacy will play an indispensable role in the implementation of the initiatives. (Chinese Social Sciences Today 2015-04-09 )

Chen Jie is from the School of Asian and African Studies at Shanghai International Studies University.

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