Tuesday, July 2, 2013

And now we have ... Kung Fu diplomacy

From: Chinese Martial Arts in the News: July 1, 2013: New Documentaries, “Enter the Dragon” Turns 40 and Ip Man Comes out on Top - BenJudkins, chinesemartialstudies.com

"1. The Traditional Chinese Martial Arts as a tool of public diplomacy.

It is no secret that the Chinese government occasionally uses the widespread interest in the traditional fighting arts as a tool to build a positive national image and bonds of trust with groups outside of the Chinese mainland. These sorts of efforts are euphemistically referred to as 'public diplomacy.' As a political scientist who studies International Relations I am always interested in these sorts of informal diplomatic efforts which revolve around attempts to cultivate and harness 'soft power.'

Often these sorts of efforts can be abstract and nebulous, but a recent news story indicates that 'Kung Fu Diplomacy' is about to get a lot more concrete. The Chinese government has just announced a new program which will offer martial arts training in a variety of styles to both foreign diplomatic personal and their families while they are stationed in the PRC. They are also placing instructors in foreign embassies so that when these individuals return to their home countries (or are transferred to their next overseas posting) they will be able to continue with their training. This is a great mechanism for reaching out to and building potentially long term relationships with the diplomatic elite of numerous countries. Its still technically 'Public Diplomacy,' but of a very focused type."

Image from, with caption: Mural showing two guards with swords at the opening to a 1500 year old Norther Qi dynasty tomb in Shuozhou City, Shanxi Province.

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