More on China’s projection of its new-found soft power:
A former United States ambassador to Thailand tells of being asked to contribute to a local university in Bangkok that wanted to set up an “America corner” in its library—nothing more than a computer station and a few shelves of informational material. During the Cold War such a project would have been funded by the U.S. Information Agency. But the USIA closed its doors eleven years ago and now such requests must travel through the bureaucratic badlands of the State Department. Because of the ambassador’s persistence, funding ultimately came through. When he arrived for a small ceremonial unveiling, however, he found that the modest corner endowed by the United States was dwarfed by the Chinese government’s donation—a new building, fully staffed, to house one of its Confucius Institutes.
The question, writes public diplomacy analyst Helle Dale is whether “China’s audacious gamble—advancing an ambitious public information campaign abroad while denying crucial information to its own people—can succeed.”