Research Project at the Centre
Cultural Diplomacy Along the Silk Road: Dynamics and Impact in the Obor Countries
Cultural diplomacy (CD) serves as an important aspect of successful bi-lateral and multi-lateral diplomacy. People-to-people bonds is one of the five goals of the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative launched in 2013 by the Chinese President Xi Jinping during an official speech ('Promote People-to-People Friendship and Create a Better Future') at Kazakhstan's Nazarbayev University in the country's capital Astana. The clear emphasis on culture as an increasingly important aspect of international relations, and as a key element in globalization and communication technology, able to reshape power dynamics among social actors, represents a turning point in Chinese foreign policy strategies. My research project is aimed at understanding how CD implemented by Chinese state and non-state actors impacts and influences the knowledge and perception about China among local communities along the New Silk Road Economic Belt, reshaping the balances of power both at the local and regional level. Starting from the assumption that Chinese cultural diplomacy is becoming more and more sophisticated and that the OBOR initiative is potentially at first an intercultural project, and secondly an infrastructural one, the final aim of the research is to get insights on how Chinese CD is reshaping the regional environment in terms of alliances (government to government, non-government to non-government and government to non-government) and to assess the initiative impact in terms of socio-economic development at the local level. As case studies I selected two countries along the New Silk Road Economic Belt: Pakistan and Turkmenistan.