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International Exchanges of the Charhar Institute
 
                                          Yu Fan. Zhong Yichen
 
Founded in October, 2009, the Charhar Institute is a non-governmental, non-partisan independent think-tank in China. Since the early days of its establishment, the Charhar Institute has been dedicated to becoming a non-governmental think-tank in China that enjoys international prestige under the guidelines of ¡°being forward-looking, influential, cooperating for shared progress¡±. Focusing on ¡°public diplomacy¡± and ¡°conflict and reconciliation¡±, the Charhar Institute has been promoting the image of China with unremitted efforts.
As an NGO specializing in China¡¯s diplomacy and international relations, the Charhar Institute has achieved impressive progress. It ranked the 108th out of 133 in Top Foreign Policy and International Affairs Think Tanks according to the 2015 Global Think Tank Report issued by the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania. It also ranked the 45th out of 144 of the Best Independent Think Tanks. An important reason for such performance in so short a period of time is that the Charhar Institute has carried out effective international communications, which mainly rely upon the following four aspects: clear brand identification, dedication to cooperation, collaboration with scholars and proactive interaction with media and we-media.
1. Position of the Charhar Institute
As put by Ke Yinbin, Secretary-General of the Charhar Institute, ¡°Just like a successful company that needs a creative and reliable brand, a think-tank also needs to build up its own brand.¡± A think-tank has to establish a well-known brand in order to disseminate its thoughts, so that it can be related to people when they talk about relevant topics.
The Charhar Institute has successfully set up its brand in the regard of public diplomacy. With continuous economic development, China has been enjoying improving global status, attracting attention of more and more people. In this new era, it is utterly necessary for the government and general public to coordinate in carrying out research and practice in public diplomacy, so as to build a sound image of the country and gain support from the international community. Therefore, the Charhar Institute placed public diplomacy on top of its agenda since its establishment. Taking ¡°public diplomacy¡± as the brand, the Charhar Institute has been in contact with a large number of think-tanks and research institutions (e.g. Korea International Cultural Exchange Conference and the University of Southern California Centre on Public Diplomacy) in this arena globally and has thus expanded its international influence. 
There are mainly two formats in China¡¯s public diplomacy and international exchanges that the Charhar Institute works on: firstly, the promotion of concepts. The institute passes on its concepts through publishing a series of books and magazines, including the English briefing Charhar Express and Charhar book series (foreign languages version), in order to introduce to the world the latest research works on public diplomacy in China. The second one is the facilitation of events. The Charhar Institute has been practicing concepts of public diplomacy through concrete events, for instance cross-culture communication and reciprocal visits between scholars. By co-hosting activities and carrying out joint research programs with its counterparts in other countries, the Charhar Institute has been expanding its brand beyond the homeland. 
Through long-term research, the Charhar Institute has realized that the ultimate goal of public diplomacy is not only building up a sound image of the country, but also increasing communication and exchanges between different countries and civilizations, eradicating discrimination and misunderstanding, and promoting peace of human society. Therefore at the beginning of 2014, the Charhar Institute identified its second priority¡ªconflict and reconciliation¡ªand leveraging its excellence in the research, education and practice of peace. At the same time, shortcomings in the above-mentioned areas in China make it difficult for the international community to accept the authenticity of China¡¯s ¡°peaceful development¡±. By upholding the brand of ¡°peace studies¡± in its international exchanges and cooperating with international peace organizations including Peace Studies Association of Japan and International Peace Research Association, the Charhar Institute has effectively made a better case of the peaceful image of China and thus carried out sound practice of international communications.
2. Placing Win-win Cooperation at the Core
The Charhar Institute has been dedicated to promoting concepts and carrying out international exchanges through cooperation and shared development. Cooperation is the most effective way to have exchange of thoughts; it helps others to understand our ideas and helps us to fulfill ourselves by drawing from others¡¯ opinions.
The Charhar Institute boasts a large number of international cooperation partners, including think-tanks and research institutions. By co-hosting activities and joint research, the Institute and its counterparts discuss topics of mutual concerns and learn from each other. The Charhar Institute enjoys exceptional advantages in international exchanges. On one hand, the independent status of non-governmental and non-partisan enables the Institute to carry out candid and free communication; on the other hand, rich practice and research experience also helps the Institute to develop a comprehensive format to carry out international exchanges. Profession and experience combined serve as the basis of successful and divergent cooperation. Such vast international cooperation has enabled the Charhar Institute to promote its ideas and voice on the global stage.
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3. A Cross-border Platform for Wisdom Exchanges
The most fundamental content that a think-tank passes on is the thoughts of scholars. Therefore, a think-tank needs to build its ¡°pool of wisdom¡± prior to its sound interaction with scholars. Only with constantly emerging new ideas can a think-tank carry out effective international communications.
The Charhar Institute is a platform for exchanges that opens up to scholars both home and abroad. The institute has a research team in which 15 are international research fellows or senior research fellows from countries like the UK, the US, Japan, South Korea, France, Singapore and the Netherlands. In addition, the institute has included former international political heavyweights and renowned scholars into its international consultation committee. The contribution of Olusegun Obasanjo (former President of Nigeria), Lim Chang-yeol (former Deputy Prime Minister of South Korea), and Johan Galtung (father of international peace studies), to name but a few, proves to be immense support for the Institute¡¯s practice in international public diplomacy.
Scholars raise and promote their theories at the Charhar Institute, and then make use of opportunities provided by this platform to have in-depth discussions with Chinese and international scholars in this area, so as to develop their own theories. With accumulation of academic progress achieved by scholars, the Charhar Institute has seen expanded popularity. Ultimately, what scholars need is a platform whereas a think-tank needs wisdom. The ideas of the Charhar Institute have exactly been publicized by the facilitation of sound interactions between scholars and think-tanks.
4. International Exchanges through Media and We-media
Apart from face-to-face exchanges, media are important channels for interaction and communications. In this regard, the Charhar Institute has two means, one is through cooperation with media, and the other, through we-media.
The Institute has carried out broad cooperation with media both home and abroad. Among them are domestic media dedicated to international communications, including China Daily and China.org.cn; there are also international media including Lianhe Zaobao, KBS, and Channel NewsAsia. The Institute has thus established a more multi-tiered communications network by getting its messages across through both domestic and international ways. Moreover, as a non-governmental entity, the Institute is more flexible on accepting interviews of foreign media and more trustworthy for the general public of other countries.
The rapid development of we-media has changed the way we live, learn and work. Following this trend, the Charhar Institute has been promoting itself by sharing valuable ideas on platforms with vast number of followers. The Institute now has developed its own English website and registered accounts on international social media. The updating of information on them has been an important way for the Institute to promote itself.
In addition, the Charhar Institute attaches great importance to re-communications of its own ideas. Conference outcomes and reports are regularly edited into Charhar Express (the official English journal of the Institute) and sent out through emails, as a result sound communications effects have been generated. Moreover, international organizations such as the International Peace Association often forward the Charhar Express to its own members, further enhancing the influence of the Charhar Institute.
     (Yu Fan, one of the two authors of this article, is in charge of the research programs of the Institute; whereas Zhong Yichen, the other author, is an associate to the Institute¡¯s research programs.)
 
 
 
 
 
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