Cheng Tianquan: Citizen Participation in Foreign Affairs

The following is the second half of an article by Cheng Tianquan (程天权), professor and party secretary at Renmin University (or People’s University). The article was first published by Jiefang Daily, and then by the CCP’s website, on Tuesday.

Cheng was born in Shanghai, on March 28, 1946, according to People’s University’s website, and is a specialist in Chinese legal history. From 1986 to 1991, he was the director of Fudan University’s propaganda department. He became professor in 1995, apparently while at Fudan University, and has been Renmin University’s party secretary and administrative affairs’ (or university council) director since February 2001.

[…]

It needs to be pointed out that the building and handling of international relations isn’t only a matter for the national government, but also for the citizens. In this interlinked world, where everyone may widely disseminate news, it becomes important to talk about how citizens can be helped and be guided in their participation in international affairs, and how harmonious “people-to-people” relations can be developed in this global village. Although the government clearly guides public opinion, the so-called “will of the people” has at times kidnapped1) the government’s diplomatic policy-making. It would be promising if influential researchers and think tanks in the field of international issues would make it their task to guide citizens to look at international affairs rationally.

需要指出的是,国际关系的构建与处理不仅仅是国家政府的事情,也是公民的事情。当今天网络世界里,在人人都可以成为有广泛传播力的新闻人的情况下,如何帮助和疏导公民参与国际事务的探讨,构建地球村里和谐地发展的“人与人”关系,显得十分重要。虽然,政府对公民的引导是显而易见的,但是所谓“民意”绑架政府外交决策的事情也时有发生。而在引导公民理性看待国际事务方面,中国国际问题研究智库和相关学者有着影响引导公众的责任,这方面应大有可为。

The appropriate road for international strategic research should also be on various levels. First of all, fundamental research, on the historical as well as the philosophical range, should be deepened.This is important work there are specialists who apparently have nothing to do with international relations, but who in fact have a lot to do with it. After all, language, expression and ideological habits may all constitute obstacles in the field of knowledge and assessment in a broader sense. Just as with obvious cultural differences between the West and China, there are also dissimilarities within the oriental cultural system, on various levels.

国际战略研究的合理路径也应有多个层次。首先,加强基础研究,即从历史的、哲学的层面上深化研究。这是一项非常重要的工作,有些专业好像跟国际关系没有直接关系,但是实际上非常有关联。因为,语言表述、思维习惯、意识形态,还有更广义上的文化差别,都会构成国际关系领域认识研判上的障碍。如文化差别方面,除了西方和中国的明显相异性外,就是在东方文化体系里也是多层次的。

Secondly, the applicability of international-relations theory research, mainly generally used international-relations theory research, at the same time includes the expansion and innovation of these theories.

其次,应用性国际关系理论研究,主要是对通行国际关系理论的研究,同时也包括这些理论的拓展创新。第三是当下应对的即时性对策研究,在智库互动中要有交流,最后要有评估,这样积累起来就形成丰富的案例资源,对以后国家在处理国际事务时会有积极的参考价值。
As a third point, concerning real-time countermeasures, there needs to be exchange between thinktanks and final appraisals. This can build rich resources and case-study material with a lot of reference value for the handling of international affairs. And finally, thinktanks should be encouraged to participate in people-to-people diplomacy2). International experience tells us that an important way to create smooth conditions for a country in the international community is to use people-to-people diplomacy to actively communicate [within the international community], by individual behavior, trade activities, cultural interaction, thinktank exhanges and other diversified means, to enrich the understanding of ones own country among a foreign public, among foreign organizations and foreign media. In this regard, the role of thinktanks is irreplaceable.

最后,要提倡智库参与民间外交。国际经验告诉我们,一个国家要在国际社会上行走比较顺畅,很重要的途径是通过民间外交展开积极沟通,如通过个人行为、商务活动、文化互动、智库交流等多样化手段,丰富海外公众、机构和媒体对本国文化和国家形象的认知。这方面,智库的作用是不可替代的。

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Note

1) Cheng’s “kidnapping” remark won’t refer exclusively to the Chinese government’s “management” of public opinion after the arrest of Chinese fishermen by a Russian FSB patrol boat earlier this month. However, the issue of public anger concerning foreign affairs probably led to the  explicit mention of “policy kidnapping” by the public in Cheng’s article.
2) 民间外交 (minjian waijiao) usually stands for what may be translated as people-to-people diplomacy, while 公共外交 would amount to public diplomacy. Please see footnote 1 under that post.

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Related

» Jiang Zemin: Importance of Philosophy, Xinhua, April 28, 2002

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3 Responses to “Cheng Tianquan: Citizen Participation in Foreign Affairs”

  1. All this would be far more relevant if it paid enough attention to how “people-to-people” diplomacy is actually working at the moment in practice – that is, toleration and encouragement of nationalist protests directed at the enemy-of-the-week, organisation of overseas Chinese to take part in such protests by diplomatic missions. The thing is, in the end this kind of rent-a-mob-ism only appeals to a domestic audience – most of all the leadership – and works to undo whatever may be acheived by the kind of people-to-people diplomacy discussed here.

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  2. I suppose the mob is part of the glory that Chinese public or “people-to-people” diplomacy intends to proclaim throughout the world, foarp. That said, the public anger at the Chinese consulate that handled the trawler incident with Russia earlier this month probably wasn’t welcome to Beijing. Russians are simply too barbarian to care about the feelings of the Chinese people – hence no use to make the same fuss there that works so efficiently on London or on Berlin.

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