Monday, November 30, 2015

Cultural diplomacy: Australia's relations with China and Japan, a process of engagement

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 Public diplomacy is normally understood as government's aim to positively influence overseas public opinion regarding its image. However, this essay instead explores public diplomacy through people-to people relationships as a process of engagement and mutual understanding while maintaining governmental objectives as well. The emphasis of Australia's conduct of public diplomacy is explored through two main organizations - Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and National Gallery of Australia - in promoting cultural understanding with China and Japan. The locus on the effect of cultural diplomacy within this research paper is about fostering deeper relations and understanding with two of Australia's prominent Asian neighbours. Australia's geographical position is such that Asia is understood to be an important neighbour in the Asia-Pacific region. As such, the highlight of its relations with Japan and Australia is about the strong ties that the nation and subsequently, the community have fostered throughout many years of co-operations. This people-to-people links through public diplomacy provides a more intimate and nongovernmental intrusive mode of communication to better understand a culture that is so different than that of Australia's Western one. Thus, cultural diplomacy itself facilitates interest in participation of communities in wanting to understand, explore and educate themselves about others. The end of the 'White Australia' policy has developed Australia's profile as a multi-national country and established its image as a nation that is accepting of others. There is a whole of government approach involved in achieving the successful ventures of cultural diplomacy by the two aforementioned organizations. As much as this paper focuses on a grassroots level of interaction and engagement, this has all been able to come about through the development of government trade relations with China and Japan and the contribution of government based organizations like ACC and AJF in supporting and funding MSO and NGA activities to bring about Australia's cultural connection with Asia. As such, Asian-Australian artists have emerged through this long-term cultural connection that Australia has shared with China and Japan. Chinese born composer Julian Yu whose iconic piece 'Willow and Wattle" effectively married Australian and Chinese culture into one and famed Japanese born fashion designer Akira Isagawa used his Printemps-Ete exhibition to showcase Japanese origami techniques in his production of Australian fashion. These are but a few of the artists whose dual identities has benefited themselves and the communities that they identify with. The recognition by MSO and NGA of their efforts and skills are a 'soft' and effective way of communicating with the people of two different nationalities...

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