Is PR bigger than HR?

And when I say HR I mean Human Rights, something that isn’t China’s speciality. In my last article, I have tried to describe the ambiguous relationship between China and Africa. On an international level, China has decided to open up and stop hiding behind its Great Wall. Will it actually affect the country’s Human Rights policy?

Advocacy and media attention

The Chinese government wants to destroy « the one-sided image of threat » that tarnishes its reputation by presenting an image of  « prosperity, democracy, openness, peace and harmony ». China’s new objective is achieving transparency. Transparency… a word used too often by too many people.

John Woo

Like most companies and some countries, China thinks that a well-rounded PR Campaign will sway public opinion.
The media reported that Beijing is preparing a PR campaign that will consist of  30-second television commercials and a 15-minute promotional film. It is set to be released on October 1st, which 61st birthday of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). 

Jackie Chan

This « mediatic effort » will feature an appearance by Olympic diving diva Guo Jingjing, film director John Woo and Jackie Chan (isn’t he American by now?). The short films will be broadcasted by the BBC and the very unbiased and non-propagandist CNN. 

Since I’ve started studying in PR, I’ve always wondered if in real life – and not in theory – if in real life PR professionals actually do more than getting the message out there. Do they also help the company to take responsibility for their statements? In other words, is PR a way to embellish reality or are PR professionnals also untitled to reform reality before preaching the virtues of their clients? Aside for the campaign, how has China maneuvered to adopt transparency and improve its Human Rights (such as Freedom of Speech) policy?

Any measures proving China’s good will?

The Communist party has launched Direct Line to Zhongnanhai, an online bulletin board where Chinese citizens can leave messages to their top political leaders – including President Hu Jintao. But of course, some are already skeptical about its censure policy.
Media and PR expert Dong Guanpeng things that “the main task [of the new site] is publicity”. Does that imply that the complaints posted on this site will not be taken into consideration? Time will tell.

For now, Beijing is receiving a media training by Ogilvy China, the Chinese Branch of the international advertising, public relations agency. Being an American-based firm, Ogilvy should know how to wrap the message to appeal to the American and British viewers who will watch the short videos from China’s PR Campaign.

In all dignity

It has been said too often that Western media demonize China because they are jealous of its growing power both on the economic and the politic scenes. With a lot of dignity, China’s Foreign Minister refuses to let his country act like the victim of a mediatic persecution. He maintains that China can sway public opinion if the country tries to.

Even if the host tells the audience the next show they are about to see is terrible, they can’t decide for the audience, so the performers have to get on stage and let others see what they’ve got, and decide for themselves. »  – Yang Jiechi

To be continued…

Picture source:
Cover picture is a collage made with an Amnesty ad found on
Time Gallery

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