By Jackson DeMos
Associate professor Jian "Jay" Wang (pictured, below right) edited a recently released book titled "Soft Power in China: Public Diplomacy through Communication" (Palgrave Macmillan).
"Soft Power in China" describes and explains the scope of the country’s pursuit of soft power through public diplomacy and international communication.
“Based on the authors' intimate knowledge of the changing dynamics in China's society, this book shows the picture of a government that is learning fast in the field of international communication, and that is equally confronted with fundamental soft power challenges," said Jan Melissen, head of the Diplomatic Studies Programme at the Clingendael Institute of International Relations in The Netherlands. "This collection of essays greatly improves our understanding of China's public diplomacy as a project under construction.”
Wang said he hopes readers will take away several key arguments from the book.
"First, it is crucial that we take into account China's historical experience when attempting to make sense of the intensions and actions in contemporary Chinese public diplomacy," he said. "Second, although China's image-building project remains largely a state-centric endeavor, non-state actors are increasingly getting involved, echoing the shifting dynamics in state-society relationship. I would also like to call attention to the domestic dimension of public diplomacy in the case of China."
Wang stated China's rapid rise in global prominence has captured much attention and imagination, and perhaps nowhere else has the idea of soft power been as widely discussed, embraced and appropriated as in China.
"Although there is no shortage of commentary and analysis on China's soft power, robust inquiries into its specific communication programs and practices remain conspicuously absent. So this is our modest attempt to fill the void,” he said. “Of course, like in many other projects such as this one, some worthy topics are not covered or accorded sufficient attention in the book for a variety of reasons. I hope the volume lays the groundwork for further inquiry into this area."
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