After cold-war era, public diplomacy has become widely used by several countries as a tool in global public relations as public opinion is given more importance due to the fact the world is developing in a more democratic way, leading people to have more rights and freedom and power to non-government organisation. Following by the development of technology and globalisation has make the world to become interconnected because people have more access to more sources of news. Nowadays, several nations in the world has adopted the concept of public diplomacy as its is known as a subtle way to create positive nation branding and a clear understanding of a national policy in a way that the government want to be understand and perceive in the global arena by gaining influence through foreign investment, tourism, and education, and innovative industry.
The popularity of public diplomacy had lead to competitive amongst nation to compete against each other in order to gain competitive edge in international affairs. This analysis aims to discuss the role of public diplomacy in international affairs by paying attention to the technologies, media formats and communication strategies that are used to present nations in the global arena. Case StudiesThe main objective of this essay is to evaluate how Thailand used public diplomacy as their tool to create positive public international image.
Thailand is chosen due to the fact that its a country that national projection is given high regards, yet there are several issues in Thailand that severely damage its reputation including political instability, and prostitution. The government is considered to be weak but the strength of Thailand lies within culture, and tourism. Thailand has been through several political turmoil by having a statistic of 21 coup d’etat from 20th to 21th century (https://www.ft.com/content/88970d60-e1b0-11e3-9999-00144feabdc0). Literature ReviewPublic DiplomacyPublic Diplomacy is defined by Edward Gullion as “the way in which the government deals with the influence of public attitudes on the formation and execution of foreign policies.
Encompassing dimensions of international relations beyond traditional diplomacy by cultivated desired public opinion in other countries” (Brown. 2005 page number). The term in which the audience receive the message could be described that, audience have freedom to decide whether to accept or reject the message and persuasion is achieved through gaining trust and confidence” based on Zaharna (Zaharna. 2004). Credibility could be regarded as the core of public diplomacy, by showing a small bit of manipulation or deception would result in losing credibility (Ibid.
2004). However, according to Henrikson, he indicates that the main audience of public definition is the administrative organisation as it revolves around the concept that government ‘utilise channels of communication of media to influence on other countries government attitude and actions’ (Henrikson, 2006). Additionally, the term of public diplomacy is also suggested as a main factor to create nation branding by utilising public diplomacy attributes to create effective guidelines (Ozkan 2013). On the other hand, there are different approaches toward the concept of Public Diplomacy. United State Ambassador Richard Holbrooke insisted that the concept itself is also used mixedly with propaganda “to describe all foreign information activities by stating “Call it public diplomacy, or public affairs, or psychological warfare, or if you really want to be blunt-propaganda.”‘ (Zaharna 222 page number). This description also be supported by Ambassador Kim Andrew Elliott, which he suggested “Public diplomacy is the “softer term for international propaganda” . .
.” (Ibid 222 page number). Soft PowerMoreover, It is also unavoidable to discuss about the concept of soft power when exploring the terminology of public diplomacy. The usage of Public diplomacy is a tool for achieving Soft Power.
A concept originated by Joseph Nye in 1990 as ” power that is based on intangible or indirect influences such as culture, values, and ideology ” (Snow 2009 page number). However, it is furtherly described by clear by Nye that Soft power is the ability to ‘attract whether indirectly or directly’ through “persuading others to follow norms and institution of a country, which produce it to achieved expected result” (Brown 2006). The way in which soft power is used to achieve its could be seen as subtle and indirect. Nye described that if the culture and ideology of the country is appealing to other nations, they will likely accept, and if the country make the power legitimacy to be accepted by international public, they will be less likely to face resistance against their goal without requiring to use hard power (citation). Nation BrandingThe definition of nation branding has long been varied and there are various researches aims to understand the true meaning of the terminology of Nation Branding. It is defined by Aoki-Okabe as “the construction of a ‘national culture’ by putting across such culture to other countries” (Aoki-Okabe et al., 212).
However, it is interpret by Desatova as an “externally-oriented, business-derived, apolitical strategy aimed at increasing a country’s competitive advantage in the global marketplace” (Desatova 2017) paged number. From these two definitions, Desatova definition have proven to be business orientated comparing to Aoki, which focus more on the area of international relation. Moreover, in order for nation branding achieve its goal, it have to be achieve through six different aspects including:People: It is the people from the country is viewed.Culture: The attractiveness of culture, sports, language, and history.Immigration and capital investment: Opinion regarding to economic and social situation of the country and willingness to invest.Exports: It is how the product of the country is perceived.Governance: The point of view towards the government Tourism: The perception of people towards the country attractiveness. (Kalamova & Konrad, 2010)Furthermore, the terminology of nation branding has always been linked with public diplomacy.
Several scholars coming up with several research to prove whether nation branding and public diplomacy is the same concept or not. Bassey and Szondi has discussed the definition of the word and came out with different definition. According to Bassey he insisted that nation branding is not a synonym of public diplomacy but rather as a”progressive outcome of public diplomacy” (Bassey 2012). However, Szondi suggested that nation branding focus on, one way communication in which information are spread to international audience that mainly focuses on economic aspects.
Whereas, public diplomacy is a “two communication in which engage among countries governmental level” (Szondi 2008). Nevertheless, there are other different view proposed that, in contrast to public diplomacy, nation branding does not involve on “the concept of diplomacy” even though both target on “foreign publics” (Melissen). According to Melissen, she also stated that the differences between nation branding and public diplomacy is branding emphasized on “mobilization of all of a nation’s forces that can contribute to the promotion of its image abroad” but public diplomacy is ‘initiated by practitioners’ (Melissen).
In addition, as we explore the reasons behind why nation branding is carried out, Dinnie insisted that the objective of nation branding is to encourage exports and foreign investment, and draw in more tourist (Dinnie, 2008). By having high amount of exports, confidence in investment and large number of tourist, this will make a country gain competitive edge in the global market, and reputation to be well respected in international realm (Bassey 2012). Thailand BackgroundThailand could be regarded as mid-power in the global area with ’36’ rank and a score of 42 for its soft power (Portland 2017).
is reputable in terms of tourism and culinary in the eyes of foreign audiences, it used these two aspects as a soft power to gain power in global affairs. However, the reputation of Thailand is also heavily plague by political instability, and infamous prostitution, which tarnished the perception of Thailand. In order for Thailand to generate positive nation branding and erase their image it heavily required positive national campaigns and settle down political instability. The two major drawbacks will be discuss in the section below with solution, in which are carried out by the Thai government.
Political turmoilPolitical turmoil has long been well-known as one of the main issues that plague Thailand images and stability. The causes of political instability could be traced back to the corrupted nature of Thai politics, which were caused by two main concepts: patron-client relationship and fragmentation. Therefore by damaging the national image, it severely affect the soft power of its country. In terms of economics, it discourage investment from overseas and tourism, therefore damaged the whole economy of Thailand due to the fact that it is unstable.The issue of Thai political instability could trace back to the culture of the patron-client relationship within the bureaucrats, business tycoon’s circle and technocrats, which given rise to the practice of corruption that leads to the political turmoil in Thai political scenario .
The socio-economic structure of Thai society is shaped by the exchange of such ‘patron-client relationship’ has played a vital role in shaping. This implies that Thai social interactions are mainly emphasised on such relationship. Thai elites regularly receive privileged power and official positions that grant them an exclusive access to economic, financial and social advantages while those underprivileged are kept forever barred from financial and educational opportunities.
Patron-client comes in various form in modern Thai politics including vote-buying, and populist policy like short-term subsidy. All of this has led to social stratification and wide income inequality within the Thai society. The prejudice towards the rich who represents ‘Bureaucrat’ and the poor who represent ‘grass root’ . A sentiment which has plague Thai modern politics for decades.Fragmentation is also known as one of the key features of Thai politics. Fragmentation is whenpolitical elites and people do not have an agreement on fundamental policy platform or politicalStructure (Hooks 1995).
Therefore, leading political stakeholders to compete against each other to gain more influence, dominance and gain authority to allocate resources to their sides. Before the coup d’etat there are clashes between Yingluck government support and People’s Democratic Reform Committee, which caused by class differentiation. The Yingluck government supporter are mainly consisted of rural workers, left wing activists and businessman who perceive that the elite is the threat to democracy, and the People’s Democratic Reform Committee are groups of ultra-nationalists, royalists and urban middle class who is opposed to Yingluck’s brother Thaksin Shinawatra, and Yingluck Shinawatra (Chye 2014 page 1-2). As there is a stark contrast between the two group fundamental belief and structure, and class differentiation, this would eventually leads to fierce confrontation between the two political stakeholders. The confrontation has levellage into a political turmoil, which damaged Thai nation branding through the eyes of other country. Eventually, the crisis is settle down by the military-coup leading by General Prayuth Chan o-cha ,which he later overthrew the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra (Desatova 2017). The military regime overthrew the previous government with the justification to stop political unrest , return happiness to the people and eliminate corruption that is conducted by government of Yingluck Shinawatra. Ironically, according to Transparency international organisation, the ranking has drop from 85 to 101 out of 107 and the score went down from 38 to 35 out of 100, which is contradict to its original motive.
The reasons behind the deranking is suggested by ThaiPBS that the cause were behind prohibition in political movement, free speech, and referendum tracking, which this banish any ‘independent oversight’ to counterargument any government actions (PBS 2017). To elaborate,scholars who criticised Thailand on issue of “labour and human rights abuses in the key fishing and fruit tinning industries” would be sent to prison or human right protectors, journalist, individual, who criticised the military government would be sent to military barracks for ‘attitude adjustment (Euractiv 2016) . Additionally, It is mentioned by Portland that if Thailand governing power is returned back to civilian elected government, it would elevate the “country’s political standing and provide the space for reform it needs to inch closer to the top 30” (Portland 61). However, this seems to be a difficult way for Thailand due to the fact that the Junta government kept postponing the referendum process and, launching projects to create justification to prolong the their regime such as Thailand 4.
0 economical plan that will be discussed in the further section.Due to this fact the government have come up with a happiness projecyThailand 4.0It is an economic ‘model’ that is launched by NCOP junta government to make Thailand become economical competitive and rebrand Thailand as a well-prepared nation for digital-era, which focuses on “agriculture (Thailand 1.
0), light industry (Thailand 2.0), and advanced industry (Thailand 3.0) to tackle challenges include “a middle income trap”, “an inequality trap”, and “an imbalanced trap”” (Royal Thai Embassy 2017). This project could be seen as an effort by the government to develop Thai soft power and nation branding through economic factors. The objective of Thailand 4.0 is to promote “Economic Prosperity, Social Well-being, Raising Human Values, and Environmental Protection” (Ibid 2017). Similarly to the aspects of nation branding introduced by Kalamova & Konrad, the 4 objectives is linked with some of the Kalamova & Konrad features.
For instance, Economic Prosperity with capital investment and governance, Social Well-being with People Raising Human Values: People, and Environmental Protection: governance. This program is disseminate through several platforms of media including infographic video, internet, and television. The way in which Thailand tries to promote itself through the use economical soft power to become stand out amongst neighbour countries to raise foreign by proving itself to be technologically superior (Destova 2017). In contrast to the scale size of the project, the actual plan is considered to be hollow and vague . This signifies the true intention behind this large economic plan, which is to rebrand and prove as the a legitimacy for the military Junta to hold on their power by insisting that changes in government would lead to obstruct to the plan, rather than focusing on the fact that they are proving to the global world that they are having a long-term economic plan . Thailand disadvantagesSex TourismInclude history of sex tourismSex tourism means a tourist travelling to other countries solely to buy sexual services (Enloe, 1989). The history of sex tourism could be traced back to Most sex tourism take place in brothels, restaurants, bars or massage parlours (R.
Hanenberg & W. Rojanapithayakorn 1988). The services may vary from brothels to sex-phone, ping-pong shows, online brides, street prostitution to pornography (Nuttavuthisit, 2006).
Several light district in Thailand such as Patpong, Soi Cowboy, Soi Nana , and Pattaya walking have become the main tourist attraction and landmark for sexual tourist to visit. This reputation even went so far that Bangkok is stated as ‘The capital of Thailand, a place often associated with prostitution ‘ by the Longman Dictionary of English Language and Culture (1993), and in the Economist, volume 369 (December 2003) also mentioned ‘ throw a stone in Bangkok, and the chances are you will hit a gambler or a brothel goer’. Furthermore, it is also portrayed in the American film “The Hangover 2”, leaving a negative impact on Thai national projection, which eventually leads to current Thai prime minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha stating that he is “ashamed” and wanted “to change this perception” ( San Diego Union Tribune 2018).