Cultural Diplomacy Gone Wrong for China?


The China National Tourism Administration has made it mandatory for provincial and national authorities to keep records of any misconduct of their citizens while they are travelling to other countries. The authorities will further contact tourists when they return home and work with them on fixing their conduct.

Thanks to the rising disposable income, millions of Chinese tourists have turn globetrotters. Unfortunately, Chinese tourists have made headlines recently with their disruptive behaviour while travelling inside and outside the country - opening the cabin doors of planes to protest flight delays, taking lewd photos, etc.

Tourism has always been an integral part of cultural diplomacy. Unless the corrective measures are put in place, Chinese tourists won’t be the ambassadors that China will be proud of.

Chinese tourists are attracting a lot of criticism and negative media coverage from Hong Kong to the USA and from the Maldives to Egypt. Some luxury shops and hotels in Paris have even banned Chinese tourists.

In 2013, the number of Chinese travelling abroad amounted to 100 million. The independent brokerage and investment group CLSA estimates that the number of mainland Chinese outbound tourists will total at least 200 million by 2020.

The Chinese government has created guidelines outlining proper behaviour for its citizens when they are abroad. They also developed an advertising campaign that was broadcast on television networks. The guidelines are set out in a 62-page document that advises against such things as nose picking, slurping food loudly and stealing life jackets from aeroplanes.

In Hong Kong, Chinese tourists are often referred to as ‘locusts’. A survey by the University of Hong Kong found that negative feelings towards mainland Chinese was increasing exponentially year on year.

Decoding Cultural Diplomacy

Cultural diplomacy refers to course of actions, which are based on and utilise the exchange of ideas, values, traditions and other aspects of culture or identity, whether to strengthen relationships, enhance socio-cultural cooperation or promote national interests; it can be practiced by either the public sector, private sector or civil society.

Explorers, travellers, traders, teachers and artists can be all considered examples of ‘informal ambassadors’ or early ‘cultural diplomats’. Cultural diplomacy is critical to fostering peace and stability throughout the world and possesses the ability to influence the global public opinion and ideology. It is a vibrant and innovative ingredient of international relations, and plays a crucial role in building relations among states. Many countries advance and extend their cultural institutions abroad as part of their diplomatic strategies.

Being an important aspect of foreign policy, cultural diplomacy contributes effectively to the dynamic integration and relationship-building among states and their culture.

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Diplomatist Magazine was launched in October of 1996 as the signature magazine of L.B. Associates (Pvt) Ltd, a contract publishing house based in Noida, a satellite town of New Delhi, India, the National Capital.