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Discussion on Public Diplomacy in Bonn


On June 14th, the German – Chinese Media Network, the alumni association of the journalists exchange program “Media Ambassadors China – Germany”, held a panel discussion on “The Role, Influence and Power of the Media in Public Diplomacy: Chinese and Western Perspectives” (LINK: as part of the Global Media Forum 2016 in Bonn. The panel participants were Prof. Shi Anbin (Director of Israel Epstein Center for Global Media and Communication, Tsinghua University), Zhang Yong (Deputy Director-General for External Relations, People's Daily), Jim Laurie (formerly correspondent for ABC News and NBC News, currently consultant for CCTV), and Libby Liu (President, Radio Free Asia).

Despite a commonly agreed-upon definition of what public diplomacy is about, the invited guests from China and the United States expressed different views on the journalistic practices involved.

Libby Liu from Radio Free Asia argued that it is a tradition of western media to report negative news („Bad news is good news“) and be (overly) critical about issues. If the Chinese media could be more free and transparent in reporting critical issues, Liu added, it would strongly increase their credibility among the western audiences.

Zhang Yong from the People’s Daily admitted that Chinese media do have certain restrictions. Yet, they are improving tremendously and trying hard to catch up with the international standards. He argued that as the images of China shown in the western media are overwhelmingly negative, China has a right to tell its own stories in a positive and constructive way.

Prof. Shi Anbin from Tsinghua University suggested that the Chinese media be more interactive in communicating and try to adopt the western logic of storytelling in order to successfully gain attention and understanding of western audiences.

Jim Laurie, a veteran of US American TV and now a consultant for CCTV‘s English channel, strongly recommended all media which have a public diplomacy scope (e. g. Chinese media like CCTV or western media like Deutsche Welle) to carry out a careful audience survey in order to be more effective and efficient in fulfilling their purposes.

The discussion was moderated by Anna Marohn from NDR.

To review the discussion in full length, please click the here.

Website of the German – Chinese Media Network:
Media Ambassadors at www
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