Chinese Public Diplomacy: The Rise of the Confucius Institute (Routledge New Diplomacy Studies)

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9781138809307: Chinese Public Diplomacy: The Rise of the Confucius Institute (Routledge New Diplomacy Studies)
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This book presents the first comprehensive analysis of Confucius Institutes, situating them as a tool of public diplomacy in the broader context of China’s foreign affairs.

Since 2004, China has set up over 350 Confucius Institutes (and some 500 Confucius Classrooms)  around the world to promote the teaching of Chinese language and culture. This study establishes the concept of public diplomacy  as the theoretical framework for analysing CIs and applies this frame to in-depth case studies of CIs in Europe (with a focus on Germany) and Oceania (with a focus on Australia).  The case studies provide in-depth knowledge of the structure and organisation of CIs, their activities and audiences, as well as problems, challenges and potentials.

This study not only examines Confucius Institutes as the most prominent and most controversial tool of China’s charm offensive, but it also explains what the structural configuration of these institutes can tell us about China’s understanding of and approaches towards public diplomacy. As this study demonstrates, the most important and crucial difference between Confucius Institutes and their international counterparts concerns their organisational structure, a fact which has multiple implications not only for individual institutes and their partners involved, but more generally for the Chinese understanding of public diplomacy. Whereas British Council branches or Goethe Institutes are stand-alone institutes abroad, Confucius Institutes are normally organised as joint ventures between international and Chinese partners in the field of education or cultural exchange.

This unique setting points to a more fundamental observation, namely China’s willingness to engage and cooperate with foreigners in the context of public diplomacy, which, as all diplomatic endeavours, eventually serves national interests. This approach, as this study outlines, is strategically smart for a number of reasons. Overall, the author argues that by utilizing the current global fascination with Chinese language and culture, the Chinese government has found interested and willing international partners to co-finance the Confucius Institutes and thus partially fund China’s charm offensive. This approach shows striking parallels to China’s decision to push its economic development after the turmoil of the 1960s and 1970s. In the late 20th century, China opted for cooperation with foreigners in order to rebuild its economy. In the early 21st century, China is opting for cooperation with foreigners in order to promote its language and culture and thereby to shape its global image.

This book will be of much interest to students of public diplomacy, Chinese politics, foreign policy and International Relations in general.

Reseña del editor:

This book presents a comprehensive analysis of Confucius Institutes (CIs), situating them as a tool of public diplomacy in the broader context of China’s foreign affairs.

The study establishes the concept of public diplomacy as the theoretical framework for analysing CIs. By applying this frame to in-depth case studies of CIs in Europe and Oceania, it provides in-depth knowledge of the structure and organisation of CIs, their activities and audiences, as well as problems, challenges and potentials. In addition to examining CIs as the most prominent and most controversial tool of China’s charm offensive, this book also explains what the structural configuration of these institutes can tell us about China’s understanding of and approaches towards public diplomacy. The study demonstrates that, in contrast to their international counterparts, CIs are normally organised as joint ventures between international and Chinese partners in the field of education or cultural exchange. From this unique setting a more fundamental observation can be made, namely China’s willingness to engage and cooperate with foreigners in the context of public diplomacy. Overall, the author argues that by utilizing the current global fascination with Chinese language and culture, the Chinese government has found interested and willing international partners to co-finance the CIs and thus partially fund China’s international charm offensive.

This book will be of much interest to students of public diplomacy, Chinese politics, foreign policy and international relations in general.

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