The Civil Internet Diplomacy and China’s Countermeasures

The Civil Internet Diplomacy and China’s Countermeasures

Shumin Su (Beijing Foreign Studies Universities, China) and Mark Xu (University of Portsmouth, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-3637-8.ch007
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Abstract

The Internet Civil Diplomacy is a major revolution and an emerging trend witnessed in the information age. It poses a significant impact on foreign affairs and official diplomacy due to its unique characteristics—freedom, equality, individuality, real-time, low-cost, and convenience. This chapter reviews the development of Internet-based civil diplomacy and the practice of China’s Internet-based civil diplomacy, which has been greatly developed in recent years in multiple forms—e.g. Web forums, website signatures, event-driven purpose-build foreign affairs sites. Two types of impact of the civil Internet diplomacy—expansion effect and resonance effect—have been examined in the Chinese context through cases, events, and examples. The chapter also identifies challenges and proposes solutions for future development of the civil Internet diplomacy in China.
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Introduction

Standard diplomacy often refers to the ways in which government leaders communicate with each other at the highest levels. Public diplomacy, by contrast focuses on the ways in which a country (or multi-lateral organization such as the United Nations) communicates with citizens in other societies (public diplomacy). Cyber Diplomacy or Internet Diplomacy is an emerging media-based diplomacy. It refers to a variety of activities related to foreign exchanges, external propaganda, and diplomatic participations that are carried out using a variety of electronic network technology and network platforms. These electronic networks mainly compromise of the Internet, telecommunications network, and radio networks, which are known as “the triple networks.” The Internet Diplomacy has emerged along the trend of Internet application in both commercial and non-commercial sectors—e.g. e-business, e-government, e-learning, etc.

According to The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the total numbers of Internet users worldwide were over 20 billion by 2010, nearly 1/3 of total world population 66.8 billion. The emergence of such a large-scale users is not only challenging the many organizations and countries within the existing power structure but also leading to revolutionary changes in the diplomatic field, bringing an unprecedented impact on the traditional diplomatic forms. The civil Internet Diplomacy is a great revolution of the information age in the field of foreign affairs. In traditional societies, due to the physical boundaries and restrictions on transportation and communication technology, foreign affairs were limited to diplomatic envoys diplomacy, the league form diplomacy or professional diplomacy, therefore the vast majority of the public between countries could not communicate with each other directly.

This chapter aims to reveal the characteristics of civil Internet diplomacy and use China as a case, to examine the development of civil Internet diplomacy and the challenges.

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