In November 2011, Foreign Policy published the article “America’s Pacific Century” by U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, making official what many scholars and policymakers had been noting for decades—that the 21st century would mark a shift from a centuries-long trans-Atlantic center of trade and power towards the Pacific. As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, who the new key actors are, the implications for things like trade and security as a result of the shift trade and security, even the term itself are still fluid ideas (“Pacific” “Asia Pacific” and “Asian” Century are all used depending on the context).
One thing is certain, and that is that the idea of the Pacific Century comes with an acknowledgement of how many different actors are gaining increasing importance in international affairs. The Pacific Century is not just a nod to China’s rise (although that is an important part), but of the importance of other countries in the region—Japan, Australia, South Korea, the ASEAN states. It also highlights the importance of countries in the Western hemisphere, as Mexico, Canada, Chile, and others on the Pacific Rim are adjusting their own policies accordingly. And while no longer considered the sole centers of trade and influence, the United States and EU are also still key actors. With all of these actors vying for influence (politically, culturally, and economically), the need for public diplomacy is at an all-time high. The emphasis on collaboration, understanding, and exchange is recognized by most, if not all, the major actors. Rhetorically, the emphasis on dialogue and people-to-people interaction is publically stated at the highest levels of governance. Public diplomacy, it seems, is set up to have a central role in the increasingly complex network that is the Pacific Century.
This issue of Public Diplomacy Magazine is a collection of articles that explores public diplomacy in the Pacific Century. In an attempt to display the amount of actors that are key in the Pacific Century, we set out to collect articles that each highlighted a public diplomacy imitative from a different actor. The result is a collection that shows the different ways over a half-dozen actors are interpreting the role of public diplomacy in the Pacific Century, including two articles that approach the Trans Pacific Partnership from vastly different perspectives. As well, continuing our tradition started in the last issue, the endnote introduces the topic of the Winter 2014 issue: gastrodiplomacy.
As always, the staff of Public Diplomacy Magazine hopes that this collection of articles will serve as a starting point for further discussion on the role of public diplomacy in the Pacific Century.