People-to-People Exchanges in Chinese Diplomacy: Evolutions, Strategies, and Social Practice
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Fudan University
Publication date: 2020-06-24
Stosunki Międzynarodowe – International Relations 2015;51(4):237–253
In recent years, China has been reiterating in its diplomatic discourse and behaviour the significance of people-to-people exchanges in foreign relations. To understand this, it is imperative to take a historical-cultural approach to it as interstate relations in the 21st century, which is more economically globalised, politically democratised, and technologically advanced than previous ones, tend to extend further to peopleto-people or ethnic-to-ethnic relations. Retrospectively, the emphasis of the public’s role in foreign affairs, now defined as people-to-people exchange (PPE), can be traced in the evolution of China’s foreign policy discourse and behaviour. When the PPE and diplomacy are linked to formulate a people-to-people diplomacy, at least three assumptions can be made about it. First, it is fundamentally about communicative activities; second, it makes possible more entities as players in diplomacy; and third, it is about production, management and distribution of public goods. Three aspects may also affect the quality of the PPE among nations, and China has to commit more efforts to perfect them. They are the thinking of strategic arrangements, the optimisation of operating mechanisms, and the enhancement of communication competence. The PPE between China and the United States in recent years has shown how instrumentally useful it is to better the two countries’ mutual understanding and cooperation through civil communication. It also indicates that problems may also arise in the unfolding process of the PPE.