On numerous levels, the United States continues to fall farther behind China in public diplomacy. This is yet another indication that, for all its protestations about its commitment to reach out to foreign publics, the U.S. government is unwilling to commit the resources needed to do so effectively.
Within the U.S. Congress, the most thoughtful and persistent champion of public diplomacy is Senator Richard Lugar, ranking Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In a report released February 15, Senator Lugar noted that “in the same way that our trade with China is out of balance, it is clear to even the casual observer that when it comes to interacting directly with the other nation’s public we are in another lop-sided contest.”
This matters because inadequate public diplomacy is a fundamental flaw in the American effort to compete with China and, argues Lugar, “our nation is not doing all it can to prepare for the increasingly prominent role China will play in our economic and foreign policy.”
The Chinese are moving forward on several fronts, particularly with their Confucius Institutes, which teach Chinese language and culture and create a benign Chinese presence in countries around the world.
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