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Civil diplomacy gets more active in international affairs

By Zhang Shengjun | 2013-09-02 | Hits:
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)
Making moon-cakes with foreign friends
China has made more and more connections with the rest of the world since its opening up. Civil diplomacy in China starts to play its unique function between China and the world.
With the changes of domestic and international situation, Chinese civil diplomacy develops with new features. First of all, Chinese government carries out multi-level diplomacy by mobilizing more civil power. The existed diplomacy promotion institution such as Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries has taken new approaches to innovate its system. It established China International Friendship Cities Association in order to promote the friendship exchanges between cities in China and the rest of the world. In addition, China established new civil diplomacy institution, for instance, in 1992, China Association for NGO Cooperation was established.
Secondly, civil diplomacy becomes more active and starts to involve into the traditional diplomatic areas. With the speed up of globalization and the spread of new media, ordinary people are able to make their voices through internet and other digital channels. Overseas Chinese can particularly play a role of “civil ambassador” so as to make the world understands China better. 
In the world, the influence of civil organizations is getting more and more prominent. Their activities are called as “diplomacy without diplomats”. They devote into influencing governmental or international organizations’ decisions or striving to push certain agenda. Sometimes, civil diplomacy can play an irreplaceable role in forging a good international image than bilateral or multilateral governmental diplomacy. Transnational civil diplomacy has become a strong social political power that steps on the international political stage.
Civil organizations grow rapidly in China. Currently, there has about 42,000 registered with civil administration at various governmental levels. The organizations reflect more features of multi-dimensions, broad coverage and professionalism. They have played important roles in social and economic construction.
The enthusiasm of Chinese civil organizations to join international activities is growing in recent years. About one hundred civil organizations participated into the activities of UN Climate Change Summit, UN Human Rights Council and other international forums. They have built up the regular contacts with UN and other NGOs. Chinese civil diplomacy is heading to a direction with more self-awareness. 
Author Zhang Shengjun is Director of the Research Center of Chinese Civil Diplomacy, Beijing Normal University
(Translated by Mei Yi)