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13:39 Feb 24 2009

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English>>Tibet Online
Tibet in foreign eyes: from "propaganda" to "public relations"
13:39, February 24, 2009  

China's move to arrange foreign reporters on a Tibet media tour shows its concept of foreign publicity has changed from one of "propaganda" to one of "public relations," according to a reporter of Singapore's Lianhe Zaobao. The following is an excerpt of the article:

At a banquet for foreign reporters, special arrangements were made to ensure that each officer was seated next to a guest. In this way the two parties were easy to chat over dinner about their work and life in Tibet, and exchange views on the Han-Tibetan relations, and so on.

Certainly the reporters wouldn't let go such opportunities. They took every chance to talk and learn, raising questions about religion, human rights and others.

Before the banquet was over, Nyima Cering, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Regional People's Congress, was in such high spirits that he himself conducted the band to present a song to the guests.

A Le Figaro reporter's birthday fell on the day. To his pleasant surprise, he received a birthday cake and a piece of hada -- a piece of silk presented to distinguished guests -- from the deputy secretary of TAR government.

Such a liveliness could be rare even in the highly open areas in other parts of China. But out of most people's expectation, it indeed happened in Tibet -- a somehow subtly complex region both in terms of history and reality.

This difference in ways China treats foreign media is one of the most important discoveries of my trip to Tibet last week.

After my return from Tibet, I became aware of the change in China's foreign publicity concept from the traditional one of "propaganda" to one of "public relations." Although the two are meant to achieve the same end, the latter is subtler, softer, more complex, and in accordance with the global trend.

See this as a favorable evolution: as China grows in both national strength and international influence, it behooves for her to follow rules of international communication, and the world is asking for a China that knows better to express herself.

I talked about my trip to Tibet with my colleagues and literati friends after getting back to Beijing. They reacted in much the same way: a pause, and an exclamation that "they (Chinese officials) are really quick learners."


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