Diplomats should avoid public opinion spotlight

Source:Global Times Published: 2016-5-25 0:53:02

Several accounts opened by diplomats from the US Embassy to China on Chinese social network zhihu.com were deleted last week. An official from the US State Department said he was "disappointed by this action." According to the US, those diplomats had been invited to join an online question-and-answer session themed "Discover America" at the invitation of zhihu.com.

For the moment, it is unclear whether there had been any sensitive political content in the deleted accounts. However, an analysis of principles should be made.

The process of setting up an account as well as posting comments on the Chinese Internet should be subject to the relevant Chinese management system, and US diplomats are not exempt from this.

It is natural for US diplomats to propagate US values and policy goals whether in an intentional or unconscious way. China has already developed resilience toward this. If certain US officials have gone too far in this regard, and have created an enormous response from society, then the authorities need to step in, as well as taking restrictive measures. Otherwise, the Chinese side should refrain from entering into the fray and should not so easily look at the issue from the perspective of a war on public opinion.

Several years ago, when then US ambassador to China, Gary Locke, became a figure with huge influence in China's public opinion field, the phenomenon could not be described as normal. Once US diplomats become overly active in the Chinese opinion field, voluntarily or passively, they are bound to become sensitive figures. This is the reality, and the US embassy should be aware of it and not let its own people fall into this vortex.

There are quite a few channels for US and Western values to come into China. This is one of the elements of globalization. It is unnecessary for Chinese regulators to be overly nervous and politicize every single word. There is no way for today's China to completely cut off its connection with Western values. We should thus improve the immunity of our own values.

So far, some grass-roots departments tend to overreact in resisting Western values. This should be noticed and evaluated.

The US is not only the most important partner of China's reform and opening-up in the last 30 years, but also the biggest source that tries to permeate its values and politics into China. We have gained many achievements as well as troubles while opening our door to it. However, it is certain that the initiative has been firmly in our hands.

Against such a backdrop, we should be confident that China has the ability to control its interactions with the US. During the process, we should neither let down our guard nor become overanxious.

Chinese people's immunity and the ability to withstand external penetration of values should not be underestimated, and it is not applicable to increase our isolation to root out penetration of Western values.

Posted in: Editorial

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