The Internet is a great vehicle for public diplomacy and I would even argue the most significant platform used to promote a nation’s interests abroad. Often times it is information posted on embassy sites, whether cultural or informational, that give people insight on the views of a particular country within the borders of their host country. However, some countries have a skewed view of other nations based on Internet governance with strict censorship laws. Whenever a country has to deal with someone’s opposing opinions on touchy topics such as (but aren’t limited to) political views, culture and history, and human rights of another nation *cough* China *cough cough* they block it so it never gets the opportunity of entering the minds of their citizens.
I hate to talk about China, but who doesn’t think of this country as soon as someone says censorship? China’s censorship acts as an impenetrable force that doesn’t allow specific outside influences to be absorbed by the minds of their citizens. Unless they’re exposed to the free-flow of information on the Internet from other countries, than as far as China and may other heavily censored nations, public diplomacy efforts are going to waste.
It’s the same for media censorship in China. There are certain media outlets that are deemed “potentially dangerous” and can’t be viewed, especially during times of controversy. Bloomberg news and the New York Times are some of the many media outlets that have been blocked due to articles about government leaders that could lead citizens to question what kind of people are leading them. Even social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are not allowed to be accessed. Foreign correspondents often deal with the hassle of getting permission before they can even enter the country. China fears exposure and sensitive subjects like corruption so they control what international journalists say. If the correspondents somehow manage to get into China, restrictions are often placed on their reporting style, the government tries to intimidate them, and sometimes they’re placed under surveillance so the government can keep an eye on what it is they’re trying to report.
The value of public diplomacy and media/journalism decreases when it’s censored by other nations. Heavy censorship is a form of Internet governance that impacts the effectiveness of public diplomacy and media/journalism. If China and countries alike don’t loosen their grip on censorship and how they use it to “protect” their citizens from outside influences, in time it may cause even bigger problems within the country.