Sunday, 20 March 2016

China Lacks More Voices on Global Stage

Not many Chinese are employed at the various UN agencies
It's interesting that even though China has expanded its presence around the world economically, politically, and through emigration (legally or not), the mainland hasn't been able to flex its muscles when it comes to diplomacy.

When one looks at the numbers of Chinese working in international institutions like the United Nations and World Bank, it's at less than 3 percent according to Chinese officials.

For example, only about 200 of the 10,000 people who work at the World Bank's headquarters and country offices are Chinese.

One would think this was strange considering so many mainlanders study abroad.

Niu Dun says Chinese candidates lack professional knowledge
The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization employs, 3,200 people around the world, but only about 50 are Chinese, says Niu Dun, China's permanent representative at the agency.

"Over the past three decades, we've never been so deeply engaged in so many global issues as we are now, neither have we been so close to the centre of the world stage," says Niu, a former deputy agriculture minister.

"But no matter how good a policy we have, above all, we need a team to realize our goal... It's an urgent issue and also a long-term task."

He said the main issue was that Chinese candidates lacked professional knowledge.

"Even though someone has some diplomatic experience and speaks a foreign language well, it's very difficult if he is incapable of discussing professional problems," Niu said.

One wonders what he means by "professional". It's a word that's bandied about often in Chinese circles in an attempt to explain the difference between someone qualified and an amateur.

There's also the political factor, as it is highly likely only those with really good guanxi would be allowed to rise in the ranks, and not necessarily well qualified.

Less than 3 percent of World Bank employees are Chinese
A finance ministry source said most of the employees from China at the World Bank were consultants, and few assumed positions at or above the level of director. "For senior positions in intergovernmental institutions we have seen more Chinese faces in recent years, but that was more a result of government intervention," he said.

On the other side of the spectrum, there were about 460,000 Chinese students who studied abroad in 2014, compared with 114,700 a decade earlier, according to data from the Ministry of Education.

However, one cannot assume that just because someone studied abroad makes them an ideal candidate for diplomacy -- and do they want to do that kind job or are they well suited for it?

Nevertheless, China needs to groom its young people -- on propaganda mode or not -- to represent the motherland on the world stage. And wouldn't they take their job seriously if they were given the opportunity to do so?

Or is the government terrified the next generation will not do a good job because they have been educated overseas and thus been polluted with other belief systems too?

It's an intriguing dilemma China is in now, but one that needs to be addressed quickly otherwise the country could be crippled by its own lack of diplomatic skills.

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