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January 30, 2009

Comments

Cha

I agree that social media is a great way to reach out to the Chinese people, and that Obama's team – rather than the BBG – are the people to create these sites. However, what stop's the Chinese government from just blocking the new Chinese-language American government websites? Nothing.

David

You're right, Cha. Without getting into the efficacy of Chinese site blockages (which I think most of China's online opinion leaders can breach with little trouble), I think online public diplomacy has to reach beyond the traditional "Government-to-Peoples" (G2Ps) approach and incorporate a wider number of communicators on all sides.

I'm a believer in what I call "distributed public diplomacy," which recognizes that the most effective way to engage the people of another country is with the people of your own. The government sites and efforts must form a critical core to the online public diplomacy effort, but in the end people are more convinced by the individuals they deal with on an ongoing basis than they are by an official site or a government shill.

How do we make this work? That is the question we have to turn to right smartly. But without that core of government sites, blogs, tweeple, etc., the effort will be weak. The great value to the government effort is to demonstrate transparency, accessibility, and relevance, so that must be the first step.

Cha

Interesting. So do you think that there should be some sort of Obama administration initiative aimed at encouraging distributed public diplomacy?

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