Panel Discussion:
The Role, Influence and Power of the Media in Public Diplomacy


In our increasingly interconnected world, strategic communication from states to foreign audiences – so called public diplomacy – has become more and more important. Media as such can shape and influence images of foreign countries. As a public diplomacy outlet it can ultimately generate public support for a country’s views and values abroad. In recent years, non-Western actors are becoming more and more proactive in communicating their views and values to global audiences, while also reporting about international affairs in accordance with their own governmental agendas, China being a prime example. Dissatisfied with Western media’s China coverage, the country spends an estimated US$ 10 billion annually on its “duiwai xuanchuan” (“external propaganda”), the biggest portion being channeled into foreign-language media outlets like Xinhua News Agency, China Central Television, China Radio International, China Daily or the Global Times. By comparison, the US only spent a fraction of this amount, US$ 733 million, on external communication in 2014.

Analysing the case of China and contrasting Chinese with Western perspectives, this panel discusses the role of media in public diplomacy and addresses the following questions: Why and how do states communicate via media? Who are they addressing in their external communication? Are they part of the solution when it comes to “intercultural understanding” – or part of the problem? How can public diplomacy avoid misunderstandings when the targeted audiences have completely different value systems and political traditions? What stories work and whose stories win: those of countries which communicate values of liberalism and democracy or those of countries favoring other models of governance?

The panel discussion is part of the Global Media Forum which will take place in Bonn between 13th and 15th June 2016. The Global Media Forum is
hosted by Deutsche Welle. The German-Chinese Media Network is partner of the Global Media Forum 2016.


Tuesday, 14th June 2016, 4:30 pm


World Conference Center Bonn, Plenary Hall, Platz der Vereinten Nationen 2, 53113 Bonn


SHI Anbin, Professor of Global Media and Cultural Studies, Associate Dean of International Development with School of Journalism and Communication, and Director of Israel Epstein Center for Global Media and Communication, Tsinghua University, Beijing.

ZHANG Yong, Deputy Director-General for External Relations of the Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper People’s Daily (人民日报). From 2009 until 2011 he was Managing Editor at the People’s Daily Group’s English-language daily newspaper Global Times.

Jim LAURIE, founder and head of the consulting and production company FocusAsia productions Ltd. As a consultant for CCTV he assisted in the development of its English news channel and the opening in 2012 of a new broadcast center in Washington, D.C. In 1981, he opened the first US American television news bureau in Beijing. For 25 years, he roamed the world as a television correspondent for NBC News and ABC News.

Libby LIU, President of the US government-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia (RFA) since 2005. Under her administration, RFA has transformed from a radio broadcaster to a wholly digital multi-media interactive news organisation. In 2011 she created the Open Technology Fund, a global internet freedom technology programme housed within RFA. A California native, Libby Liu is the daughter of Chinese immigrants and has traveled widely in East Asia.



Anna MAROHN studied economics and journalism in Cologne before taking off for one year in China freelancing in Xi’an and Beijing. In 2007 she returned to Germany and started working as an editor at the weekly Die Zeit with a focus on media related topics. 2012 she was appointed personal advisor to Lutz Marmor, CEO of NDR and currently head of ARD. 2016 she started her new position in NDR‘s newsroom as editor and reporter.

The Global Media Forum 2016 is supported by Robert Bosch Stiftung.