Zhao Qizheng (2009): Enhancing Zhou Enlai’s Convivial Diplomacy

Actual title: “From People-to-People Diplomacy to Public Diplomacy” (从民间外交到公共外交)1)

Author: Zhao Qizheng (赵启正), member of the 10th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee, director of the CPPCCs foreign affairs committee, and director at the Peoples Univerity (aka Renmin University) School of Journalism and Communication (中国人民大学新闻学院).

Main Link: http://www.bj.xinhua.org/bjpd-whsd/2009-10/09/content_17890314.htm

Published by Xinhua (Beijing), October 9, 2009.

Since new China was born sixty years ago, with increasingly growing prosperity and strength, she has moved from the margins to the center of the global stage. In the great course of going global, the splendid results and high standard of our country’s diplomats have also made our country’s people very proud.


An important characteristic of China’s diplomacy is that government diplomacy and people-to-people diplomacy complement each other. Once new China had been established, government diplomacy and people-to-people diplomacy came into operation almost simultaneously. In 1957, chief state councillor Zhou Enlai defined China’s defined the entirety of China’s diplomacy: “China’s diplomacy consists of official (官方的), semi-official (半官方的), and people-to-people (民间的) diplomacy”. Our country’s people-to-people diplomacy has played an irreplacable role in every historical period, and continues to make exceptional contributions.


[Description of international forums – such as the World Economic Forum or Bo’ao Forum – as occasions where officials and non-official delegates meet.]


Public diplomacy (公共外交), also translated as 公众外交, mainly comprises government, social elites’2), and the general public, among which the government guides, the elites’ are the core, and the general public is the basis. […] Participation in public diplomacy from all kinds of perspectives expresses ones country’s situation and find out about the other side’s points of view. Through public diplomacy, there can be broader, more direct encounters with foreign publics, and ones own country’s cultural attractiveness and political influence can be strengthened, the international environment of public opinion be improved, the country’s interests be protected, and the real image of the country be expressed.

公共外交(public diplomacy,又译作公众外交)的行为主体包括政府、社会精英和普通公众三个方面,其中政府是主导,社会精英是中坚,普通公众是基础。(…) 参与公共外交的各方从各种角度表达本国国情和了解对方的有关观点。通过公共外交,可以更直接、更广泛地面对外国公众,从而能更有效地增强本国的文化吸引力和政治影响力,改善国际舆论环境,维护国家的利益,表达本国的真实形象。

Today, the Chinese people and the people of all countries are interrelated in innumerable ways. Twelve million people annually leave the country (and 46 million cross borders), and 24 million foreigners a year come to China3). Chinese people are becoming citizens of the world, added more possibilities for the development of our public diplomacy, strengthened citizens’ sense of responsibility for the protection of the country’s legitimate interests, and for making contributions to global harmony. China must strengthen the right to have her say internationally, through public diplomacy.


The world must understand China correctly; it must not count on the hope that Western media could some day correctly and objectively report about China, let alone count on their own initiative to fill the ideological gaps left behind by history. To introduce China’s real situation, including its cultural spirit, its socialism with Chinese characteristics, its domestic and foreign policies etc. to the outside world, we must first depend on the role of our own citizens’ communication skills. China’s public diplomacy is exactly an important method of strengthening these kinds of skills.

要让世界正确认识中国,不能指望于西方媒体某一天能基本公正客观地报道中国,更不能指望于他们主动填补历史遗留的意识形态鸿沟。把 中国的真实情况,包括中国文化精神,中国特色的社会主义,中国的内外政策等等介绍出去,首先在于发挥中国人自己的国际沟通能力。中国的公共外交正是增强这种能力的重要方式。

In its exchanges with other countries, China promotes harmony, kindness, and conviviality. “Peace” is China’s cultural characteristic. It’s the effect of drifting on the wind, stealing in by the night; its fine drops drench, yet make no sound at all.4)


Chinese citizens must strengthen their awareness and consciousness of public diplomacy, which is a sense of responsibility, and an expression of patriotic feelings. We need the essential skills of “knowing the state of our country, and knowing the outside world” to arrive at a high level of public diplomacy. Through exchange with the outside world, we aren’t only in a position to speak, but to listen. Also, in such exchanges, by promoting our interlocutors’ correct understanding of our country’ situation and policies, we can also rather directly gain information and thoughts as resources which we can provide for reference.

中国国民要进一步提升公共外交的自觉意识,它既是一种责任感,也是爱国情怀的表现。我们要有“内知国情,外知世界”的基本功,才能 达到高水平的公共外交。对外交往中,我们不但要会说,还要会听,还要会交流,在促进对方对我国国情、政策正确理解的同时,还能够较直接地获得对方的信息和 思想,为我们提供可供参考的资源。



1) Given that I’m still in the process of rectifying the names, I’m making no conscious difference between people-to-people and public diplomacy yet, although it seems that people-to-people, in a literal sense, would involve less, if any, officialdom.
The title seems to suggest that public diplomacy would be a refined or expanded concept of Zhou Enlai’s people-to-people diplomacy.

2) This may look like a rather tolerant approach (and was in more likelihood meant that way in 2009, when the article was written, than it is now). When people-to-people diplomacy is discussed, one should bear in mind that the CCP doesn’t only ideologically cultivate the field of its membership, but elites outside the party, too.

3) “Leaving the country” doesn’t necessarily mean to leave for good – it may refer to business trips and tourism, too. I’m not sure about the difference between leaving the country (出国) and crossing the border – the latter may also be translated as “leaving the country”. Crossing the border may also refer to one person exiting the borders several times, or to business and tourist travels to Hong Kong and Macau (plus, probably, Taiwan, which China doesn’t recognize as a sovereign country). There were estimates last year that during the “Golden Week” in October 2011, there would be some 700,000 entries from mainland China into Hong Kong.

4) The same poem was used in another public-diplomacy document, published by Peoples Daily Net less than one month earlier.


» Press Review (an Indian cook), Aug 20, 2011
» Be More Xinhua, Oct 10, 2009
» Tibetan Delegates visit U.S., March 20, 2009


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