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Another subset of public diplomacy is strategic communications, a term that is understood very differently by different groups and in different countries. 66 Strategic communication is understood as those strategies and activities within the domain of public diplomacy that primarily aim to achieve long-term, well-defined goals on selected themes. Public diplomacy goes beyond that, as it serves broader 64 Gienow-Hecht and Donfried, “The Model of Cultural Diplomacy,” p. 21. 65 Philip M. Taylor, for example, wrote about public diplomacy as one of four pillars of ‘strategic communications,’ with the other three being information operations, psychological operations and public affairs; see Philip M.

Networks may also develop problems with credibility, as they often consist of people that already share certain expertise, goals and ideas. They may reinforce an already existing idea or narrative, and are not necessarily open to other information or views from outsiders. Information that is shared within a network and is used to build a narrative may be selective and/or incorrect. Whereas networks may be able to reach out across national borders, they do not necessarily do so across existing views in society.

The authorities’ first reaction to these crises was to deny, cover up, and trivialize the problems— behavior that reconfirmed international and domestic images of the Chinese government’s lack of credibility. Partly as a result of the growing pressure of social media in China, which broke the government’s monopoly on information, Chinese leaders came to recognize that providing transparency and Introduction 15 accountability is the best way to limit damage to the government’s reputation. The 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake was a different type of crisis.

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