One Hundred Years of Public Diplomacy in East Asia and the Pacific

February 18, 2011

About the Author: Jennifer Park Stout currently serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary responsible for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

Recently, the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP) celebrated its 100th anniversary. Since its establishment in 1910 as the Department of State's Division of Far East Affairs, EAP has played a role in creating several important and long-standing alliances, encouraging trans-Pacific commerce, and providing much needed developmental assistance, to name just a few areas of engagement.

One additional and very important area of engagement has been in the realm of public diplomacy. Over the last century, the United States has demonstrated a deep commitment to public diplomacy efforts within East Asia and the Pacific. The State Department sponsors a multitude of activities meant to form closer bonds and create better understanding between Americans and the people in the Asia-Pacific region.

For example, working with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and partner governments, EAP supports some of the longest running Fulbright exchange programs in the world, such as Thailand and the Philippines with more than 60 years of involvement. The Bureau also counts 11 Nobel Prize winners among Fulbright alumni to and from the region (out of 43 Fulbright alumni Nobel Prize winners). Additionally, 46 foreign heads of state or heads of government from the various countries in EAP have participated in the International Visitor Leadership Program, including four currently in office. In the area of educational exchange, roughly 45 percent of the more than 690,000 foreign students who choose to study in America are from countries in EAP. Five of the top 10 sending countries are within EAP; including China, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and Vietnam.

Last year saw many advances in public diplomacy within EAP. In China, we made progress on the U.S.-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange and the 100,000 Strong initiative, furthering our commitment to expanding citizens' engagement and understanding between our countries. Millions of people, predominantly Chinese, visited the U.S. Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo. In South Korea, the United States demonstrated its unwavering commitment to this important ally by hosting numerous events commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Korean War. In Malaysia, Embassy Kuala Lumpur's series of "Click! Camps" engaged hundreds of underserved Malaysian youth with activities that honed English-language abilities, developed leadership skills, and fostered a sense of social responsibility and community service. Public diplomacy has also kept up with the times, with Indonesia blazing the trail. In December 2010, Embassy Jakarta opened "@america," the world's first high-tech American cultural center. Embassy Jakarta also leads the race among our embassies for the most Facebook friends, surpassing more than 300,000.

These and many other public diplomacy efforts in East Asia and the Pacific over the last century have contributed to the advancement of U.S. interests in the region and the overall progress and prosperity seen in East Asia and the Pacific over the last few decades.

As we look forward to the next century, EAP recently asked youth of the region to tell us what they see as the future of the United States in East Asia and the Pacific. This video provides us insight into the thoughts, perceptions and aspirations of youth in the region -- and who knows, perhaps in a few years one of them may also emerge as a future leader of the region, and a friend of the United States of America.



District Of Columbia, USA
February 22, 2011

Anna in Washington, DC writes:

Cool video! I loved hearing the next generation in Asia talk about what they think of America.


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