China’s assertion that it can rise peacefully is at times contested in the Western political- and scholarly community. China’s increasing importance on the global stage coincides with its efforts to project and spread Chinese norms and values around the globe. Based on its international economic and political momentum, China has developed a strategy to expand its cultural influence. The strategy borrows from modern Western concepts such as soft power as well as ancient Chinese statecraft. An important vehicle of China’s diplomacy has been Confucius Centers around the world, modeled on long-standing Western equivalents, which offer services ranging from Chinese language lessons, cultural and political information to collaborative Western-Chinese research projects.
This kind of Chinese public diplomacy is not always well perceived and is seen as an attempt to undermine Western ‘liberal’ values and gain influence. China on the other hand argues that its diplomacy is a crucial tool to rise peacefully and contribute to a harmonious society.
The necessity to address and understand Chinese diplomacy is important considering that China is contributing to research projects and knowledge production, not only by itself but jointly with partners in Europe such as the European Union and member state governments, and also engages with European universities, think tanks and other institutions. There are both convergent and divergent European and Chinese ideas on how this relationship should work. Thus a number of renowned specialists from China and Europe discuss the distinct Western or European and Chinese ideas of China’s cultural diplomacy, its rising power and its capacity to influence knowledge production.
13:00 – 13:30 Registration
13:30 – 13:45 Welcome by Paul De Knop, Rector of Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)
13:45 – 14:00 Opening remarks by Jan Cornelis, Vice Rector of VUB, and the Board of Directors of the Confucius Institute at the VUB
Panel 1: Public diplomacy in practice
Chair: Steffi Weil, Associate Dean of Vesalius College and the Director of Brussels Academy for China and European Studies (BACES)
After a general explanation of what public diplomacy means, experts will discuss how China’s diplomacy is put into practice. Discussion will focus on the crucial vehicle of China’s public diplomacy, the Confucius Institutes
14:00 – 14:15 China, Confucius Institutes and Public Diplomacy, by Prof. Wei SHEN, Director of the Lancaster University Confucius Institute, Professor of International Business at Lancaster University Management School, European Union Jean Monnet Chair in EU-China Relations
14:15 – 14:30 Is Confucius Institute a tool of China’s public diplomacy?, by Prof. Xinning SONG, Jean Monnet Chair ad personam, Research Director of the Centre for European Studies at Renmin University of China, and Chinese Director of the Confucius Institute at the VUB
14:30 – 14:45 Cultural diplomacy in practice – contemporary art, by Hans De Wolf, Professor at the VUB
14:45– 15: 00 Q & A
15:00– 15:30 Coffee break & networking
Panel 2 – China’s international power and the ability to spread values
Chair: Bernt Berger, Head of the Asia Program at the Institute for Security and Development Policy (ISDP)
China’s approach to cultural diplomacy is related to debate’s over whether its power to influence knowledge in the West arises from its growing international standing. The panel addresses questions concerning China’s rising international power and the likelihood of its succeeding in spreading Chinese values around the globe. Will China be able to impose a ‘Beijing Consensus of Values’, which would serve as a role model for other nations?
15:30 – 15:45 China’s Economic power and its growing importance in the World, by Duncan Freeman, Senior Researcher at the BACES
15:45 – 16:00 China’s soft power, by Luc van Langenhove, Senior Research Professor at the Institute for European Studies at the VUB
16:00 – 16:15 China’s economic diplomacy, by Richard Higgott, Prof. em. and Professor Emeritus of International Political Economy at the University of Warwick
16:15 – 16:45 Q & A
*The entrance is free, but registration for this event is required. Please fill in your name, affiliation, email address and contact number before 26 April 2016 by following the link:
Should you have any further information, please do not hesitate to contact International Relations & Mobility Office, [T]+32 2 614 81 01 , [E]International.Relations@vub.ac.be.