From propaganda to public diplomacy: Assessing China's international practice and its image, 1950-2009

Tsan-Kuo Chang*, Fen Lin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Since World War II, government-sponsored international propaganda and public diplomacy have become more visible and sophisticated in countries around the world. China is no exception. It is not immune to the compulsion and communication imperative to reach and woo the public, both at home and abroad, for its vested interests. From propaganda to public diplomacy, the practices and activities have taken different forms and scopes, mainly including government-owned media outlets aimed at foreign audiences, state-subsidized media organizations as quasi-governmental instruments, overseas advertising and public relations campaigns designed to sway public opinion to win general support for the nation involved or to repair international relations damaged by terrorist attacks and other man-made crises, and recruiting and bribing journalists as clandestine operatives. Whether such practices have been effective in changing hearts and minds among international audiences, however, is open to debate and remains to be further explored. Within the perspective of sociology of knowledge, the main purpose of this study is to look at how China comes to be viewed as an object in international communication research over the past decades that cast the country through the prism of either propaganda or public diplomacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)450-458
Number of pages9
JournalPublic Relations Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • China
  • International communication
  • National images
  • Propaganda
  • Public diplomacy
  • Soft power


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