Acutely aware that their good name is being tarnished by a US media wave of negative articles and fiery speeches by hysterical politicians of both parties, China is fighting back with the world’s most potent weapon — public relations.
China has embarked on a more pro-active campaign to counter criticism in the US of its growing economic and military power, using the visit of a senior official to Washington to make the case in public for a strategic relationship and employing a top US lobbying firm to communicate with Congress….
This weekend Robert Zoellick, deputy secretary of state, will travel to Beijing to inaugurate what China is calling a “strategic dialogue”. The US prefers the term “senior dialogue” in deference to the more elevated “strategic” tag it reserves in Asia for Japan and Australia.
Seeking to build political influence in Washington, the Chinese embassy has retained Patton Boggs to lobby on a wide range of issues before Congress, according to a lobbying registration statement filed last week with the US Department of Justice.
The enlistment of Patton Boggs which has also represented such countries as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Pakistan highlights China’s efforts to respond to the rising wave of anti-Chinese sentiment in Congress. Beyond trade, the ill-feeling is also driven by Chinese threats towards Taiwan and China’s rapid military expansion which was highlighted this month by a special Pentagon report mandated by Congress.
Considering the current decibel level of anti-Chinese rhetoric, this is going to be a very uphill battle. It’s similar to what Saudi Arabia did shortly after 911, and trying to quell the flow of anti-Saudi invective was akin to trying to stop the Yangtze river with a thimble. Get ready for lots of warm-and-fuzzy fluff articles about what a fun-loving gang the CCP is.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.