Sunday, April 10, 2011

Public Diplomacy and 'national rhetorical competence'

An interesting article in the People's Daily Online quoted head of the Foreign Affairs  Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), Zhao Qizheng, that China needs to enhance its "national rhetorical competence." The article stated,
"Speaking at a meeting on Thursday, he (Zhao) said senior officials in China are now more aware of the need to communicate effectively with the rest of world. Stressing on the importance of enhancing "national rhetorical competence" - the ability Zhao said is highly important to express the country's unique features effectively, and it is the key to successful public diplomacy, he added."
This is an interesting piece given its focus on 'words', 'expression' and 'conversations' as being crucial to any PD program. The same article quotes China's Vice Foreign Minister, Fu Ying as saying that, 
the job of talking and expressing oneself through public diplomacy has an integral role in China's future development. "We have been doing well on the development front, and we are facing an even better new decade. Now we need to talk better, to make our messages clearer to the world. That can not only help form a better environment, but also boost the nation's confidence," she said.
The Chinese apparently are working on the messaging - tone, semantics etc apart from just 'laundering information.' The focus it seems now is how does China express itself? How does it talk to the rest of the world that would enhance its influence in the global stage? In human history, this period will be seen as the  'age of conversations' and the Chinese are right in recognizing the need for 'national rhetorical competence'. As Zhao said,
"China cannot always be the gentleman who works more but talks less in the present world flooded with information."
 Suggestions/Critiques welcome.

-- Madhur


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