Dashboard and Research by: Rahul Karan Reddy

Introduction

The China Public Diplomacy Dashboard is an interactive dashboard that visualises China’s diplomatic outreach in Asia from 2000 to 2017. The dashboard covers hallmark Chinese initiatives like Confucius Institutes and Sister City Agreements, while also displaying traditional engagements like government visits, military visits and student exchanges. Together, they constitute the majority of Beijing’s diplomatic outreach over nearly two decades. The purpose of visualizing this data is to identify for China Watchers the geographic focus of public diplomacy efforts by Beijing. Different instruments of diplomatic outreach – such as the ones identified here – have been deployed in different geographies in a bid to fulfil Chinese goals.  Instruments such as Confucius Institutes, Sister City Agreements, Military and Government visits and inbound-outbound student exchanges show us the image Beijing likes to project in specific geographies.

Scope

The data covers countries in Asia from 2000 to 2017 and tracks five specific indicators of public diplomacy.

Navigation

The Public Diplomacy dashboard can be navigated by selecting the country on the map, to filter the two charts. The map shows the total number of Confucius institutes (color) and total number of sister city agreements (circles) for countries in Asia from 2000 to 2017. You can select the particular year for these indicators using the year dropdown menu.

The graphs below the map show the number of inbound and outbound students on the left and the number of government and military visits on the right.

To see these indicators for a particular country, select that country in the map above and the graphs below will show the values for the country selected. To see the values for a group of countries, hold down ctrl and click on the countries in the map you want to see the values for (ctrl + mouse click/ command + mouse click).  

Some countries do not have data for particular years and the graphs will be empty/blank when this is the case.

Definitions

Confucius Institutes: Confucius Institutes are non-profit, government-run institutions set up to promote Chinese language and culture. The institutions are run by the Chinese International Education Foundation, in partnership with local universities with the intention to promote linkages with Chinese businesses.

Sister Cities: Sister city partnerships are agreements signed by local government leaders from two countries to engage in exchange activities in multiple fields. This indicator shows the total number of sister city/friendship agreements between cities and provinces in China and a partner country.

Government Visits: The number of high-level and provincial level visits by government officials between China and the receiving country, per year. These visits took place in China, the receiving country or a third location.  

Military Visits: The number of high-level and provincial level visits by military officials between China and the receiving country per year. The visits took place in China, the receiving country or a third location.

Outbound Chinese Students: The number of Chinese students studying in the country per year.

Inbound Students to China: The number of international students from a country studying in China

Key Findings

Countries in China’s periphery, especially Japan, South Korea and Australia have been the focus of Beijing’s public diplomacy. Japan, South Korea and Australia have the highest number of Sister City Agreements with China and also have the highest number of Confucius Institutes. These countries also figure prominently in terms of student exchanges with China. One of the core deductions from this assessment Is that China’s focus is on advanced industrial economies —Japan, South Korea and Australia — wherein Beijing is keen on maintaining strong economic clout. Also, they are increasingly and closely linked to the US’ Indo-Pacific outreach, with all three being US alliance partners.

China has also engaged in public diplomacy efforts South-East Asia as well, with countries like Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and Malaysia figuring prominently in terms of Sister Cities and Confucius Institutes. South-East Asia is followed by Central Asia and South Asia in terms of the geographic focus of public diplomacy efforts.

South Asia has witnessed a limited, but not insignificant, amount of public diplomacy initiatives from China. India had the highest number of Confucius Institutes and Sister City Agreements, compared to other South Asian countries.

A detailed report on the dashboard and its finding will also be available soon.