An inspiring vision and well-crafted national narrative that resonates across cultures creates trust, goodwill and third-party advocacy—the ingredients of power and persuasion in the Asian Century. And when the advancement of national interests includes the championing of soft power, the outcome will always be a win for humanity because it delivers on multipolarity’s key promise: a more prosperous future for all.
Public discourse about Belt and Road has evidently turned into a tale of two worldviews, dividing stakeholders along geographic and ideological lines. However, a prolonged impasse is not a foregone conclusion.
If connectivity is right up there with liberty or capitalism then it sure won’t go away anytime soon. Belt and Road is its proxy and failure not an option. Given the escalating tensions with the US and the fact that most belts and roads end in Europe, the EU has a role to play in the reset of the BRI.
As the number of infections keeps rising in and outside China it becomes abundantly clear that the world has a strong self-interest in helping China. And herein lies an opportunity no one is talking about.
The more international collaboration Beijing invites to combat the virus, the more likely it is that China’s global perception will see a gradual shift from rival toward partner. That could open doors for fresh starts and renewed talks on the most contested issues where trust is central.
We can learn an important lesson from Bangladesh [the Rana Plaza building collapse]: risk and corporate responsibility cannot be outsourced. The good news is the tools for assessing and influencing corporate strategy from a reputational point of view exist and corporate reputation can be a strong driver and motivator to fix what’s wrong. Inviting communications advisers to take the fifth seat might just prove to be the best strategic move.
Communities directly affected by months and years of road works, sanitary upgrades and daily traffic back-ups have a much higher information need, underscoring the importance of open and proactive communications. The best way to address this is by investing in communications planning, community consultation and education, and stakeholder engagement programs.
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