Public Diplomacy from a Chinese perspective

Mainly demostrated in Zhao Qizheng's work is public diplomacy from a Chinese perspective. At the 2012 London Book Fair Professor Zhao Qizheng launched his two new English language books. They are Cross-Border Dialogue: the Wisdom of Public Diplomacy, published by the New World Press, and How China Communicates: Public Diplomacy in a Global age, published by the Foreign Language Press. This is an English version of his Chinese book entitled Public Diplomacy and Cross-Cultural Communication, published by Remin University Press (2011).

Although Zhao has published nearly 20 books, he might not know that the New World Press, which published his latest book on cross-border dialogue on public diplomacy, as well as his first book on Introduction of China to the World (2005), is the publisher which published the China Studies Series in English as early as the 1980s, e.g. Chinese Village Close-up; and Small Towns in China: Functions, Problems and Prospects, by Fei Xiaotong.

The fact that Chinese social sciences have started to achieve global reorganization only in recent years is the result of continuous efforts made by Chinese social scientists. During the period when the New World Press published the China Studies Series, Professor Martin Albrow, the then President of British Sociological Association (BSA) and Editor of Sociology, published a few articles which were written by Chinese sociologists. This was in fact encouraged by Fei Xiaotong himself and helped by Dai Kejing, the translator who translated Fei's Peasant Life in China into Chinese.

When the above book on cross cultural communication was translated into English with the subtitle 'Public Diplomacy in a Global Age', Zhao Qizheng may not have realised that the term 'global age' was used as the main title for his book The Global Age: State and Society Beyond Modernity (1996) by Martin Albrow, now CCPN's Principle Research Associate. In Albrow's recent proposal for a monograph series entitled ‘Chinese Theory for a New World Order’ he stressed the point that the world needs to take Chinese thinking seriously. Albrow might be glad to learn that Zhao's above book, with 'global age' as its subtitle, includes a theoretical part,  e.g., the power of discourse in cross-cultural communication. But he won't know it because the 'Part I Theories' has been translated as 'Part I Concepts' in the English version. 

One of the great wishes of Fei Xiaotong was to gain recognition from the international academic community for Chinese sociological and anthropological theoretical contributions including his own works. If Fei Xiatong's books mainly belong to anthropological and sociological disciplines, the majority of Zhao Qizheng's books can be categorised as part of international relations. This might be the reason why Zhao Qizheng became Dean of the School of Journalism and Communication, Renmin University of China since 2005. This is the first of the journalistic educational institutions founded by the party and government since the founding of New China. It pooled the strength in journalistic education from Remin, Yenching and Peking Universities. It consists of the departments of communication studies, radio and television, advertising and media economics, teaching and research of news history, etc.

Albrow and many scholars in the West may also not know that the fact that Zhao Qizheng's books relate to sociology and anthropology was directly influenced by Fei Xiaotong himself. This can be seen from his earlier book Shanghai Pudong Miracle – A Case Study of China’s Fast track Economy (2008). It shows how sociology and anthropology were applied in the development of Pudong when Zhao was the vice Mayor of Shanghai City and Director of the Management Committee of the Fudong New Area. 

Zhao has served as Dean of the Binhai Development Institute, Nankai University since 2008. The institute engages in major projects on the comprehensive study of strategic, institutional, policy and theoretical issues for national and regional economic and social development. Based on the principle of ‘small institutions, large network’ the academic think tank organizes interdisciplinary research, fostering comprehensive high-level talents to serve the development of the Tianjin Binhai New Area and regional area, which is located in Tianjin City, one of China's four municipalities directly under the Central Government. It is hoped that Zhao would produce new work in this area in the near future.

Zhao Qizheng’s work also incorporates a comparative perspective, which can be seen from one of his earlier works entitled America and Americans through Chinese Eyes (Intercontinental Press, 2005); a dialogue with Dr Luis Palau, a preeminent American Christian evangelist with a global ministry: A friendly dialogue Between an Atheist and a Christian (English), New World Press (2006).

In short, Zhao’s works can be seen as one of the typical examples of Chinese scholars' works, and thus offers an insight into the Chinese way of thought and expression. Although this work may appear less academic by social scientific standards, it offers the promise of adding a uniquely Chinese perspective to the academic study of human knowledge.   If we could learn more how Chinese think and understand better how Chinese society operates it would positively impact our research especially when using China as a comparator and applying a comparative perspective with other countries and regions.

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