'Public diplomacy at early stage'

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China's public diplomacy has not surpassed that of the United States as claimed by a US senator, said Zhao Qizheng, spokesman for the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

Instead, judging from the money China spends and what it has already done, its public diplomacy is in a very early phase, said Zhao.

Zhao made the remarks on Wednesday at the first press conference of the Fourth Session of the 11th National Committee of the CPPCC, which will meet from Thursday to March 13.

What the US senator intended to do "is to push the US government to invest more on their public diplomacy", said Zhao.

Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, submitted a report in February urging the Obama administration to improve its public diplomacy work as the US was lagging behind China in building its "soft power".

The report said that, with its growing economic power, Beijing is devoting more resources than Washington to promoting people-to-people exchanges around the world and paying more attention to improving mutual understanding.

Zhao said that countries use different methods to advance their public diplomacy, with "some big countries taking very aggressive and hegemonic postures to disseminate their ideologies throughout the world and even to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries".

Instead, China tries to explain to the world its cultural traditions, social development, and internal and external policies, and to answer foreigners' questions about the country, said Zhao.

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