China Voice: Reform Is Best Public Diplomacy
OREANDA-NEWS. April 16, 2014. As curtain came down on this year's Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), a public diplomacy event, the lasting effect on China should be progress and reform.
It is fair to say that the four days of the conference, covering sixty topics and attracting over 3,000 global figures from all walks of life, were a good example of public diplomacy itself.
As we know, actions speak louder and better than words, and this is especially true when enhancing a country's influence in the diplomatic world. Enduring international appeal does not come from publicity campaigns, but from competitiveness fuelled by continuous reform.
China is indeed attractive to the world with its history and culture, but more importantly, it is now a marketplace of middle class consumers for global investors.
The rosy future is not without thorns, however. While barriers still exist in many sectors - intellectual property rights protection is weak and regional development, uneven - China is well aware of its problems, evident during the forum events attended by officials with a clear reform map in mind.
From entrepreneurship to innovation, from microfinance to opening up capital markets, from the Shanghai FTZ to the maritime Silk Road, the range of reforms shows an eagerness for new growth, through both domestic reform and international cooperation.
Cross-market trading by mainland and Hong Kong investors on the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges was announced during the forum, and we can expect more reforms, as mentioned in Premier Li Keqiang's speech at the opening ceremony. China is committed to opening up markets, economic restructuring and improving the lives of its people.
Credibility is the cornerstone of effective public diplomacy, and China now has to honor its promises to earn global trust and approval.
Reform cannot be achieved overnight and it will be an uphill journey. A China story with twists and turns will be a more interesting -- and convincing -- form of public diplomacy.