What is unfolding this spring is indeed unique. You will seldom, if ever, see a country wreck its own image at a faster pace than Communist China of 2008.

As China entered into 2008 expectations were high that this year would be a glorious year. It would be the year when China brought the Olympics to the world. To a world in awe. But things have gotten out of hand. Four months into the year China has been part in no less than three international scandals. An unprecedented record! The first crisis was the crackdown on the opposition in Tibet, the second was the export of weapons to Sudan and the third was also related to export of weapons but this time to Zimbabwe’s dictator Robert Mugabe.

It is such a pity that a great nation such as China is jeopardizing its image in this way and worse, that they are jeopardizing their “once in a lifetime” chance as host for the Olympic Games, just to sell weapons to Robert Mugabe. The logic behind the Chinese strategy to market their country towards the western world is not easy to comprehend.

To save the brand of China takes some serious change in how things are being done. Perhaps the Chinese leadership should study how western corporations have acted (and sometimes failed to act) in connection to scandals such as the Brent Spar (Royal Dutch Shell), child labour (H&M, Nike, Reebok), breast milk substitution (Nestlé), asbestos (ABB), oil spills (Exxon). Greater openness, transparency and respect for the human rights would do wonders to the Chinese brand, no question about it. The question is whether they are ready to take these steps towards a better China. A China that would be embraced by the rest of the world.

Stockholm Institute of Communication Science – Stics
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