1/07/2020

So Begins a New Age of Instagram Diplomacy

"Over the last few months the PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has been pushing its diplomats to vigorously engage on global (as opposed to Chinese) social media channels. This has been most notable on twitter, and has resulted in two dozen diplomats or so adopting the persona of professional twitter troll. The United States does this, Trump says that, and voila! the Chinese diplomatic core is on the scene with a few sarcastic comments they hope might go viral. Hou takes the MOFA directive to grow her social media presence in a different direction: her model of public diplomacy is not the twitter brawler, but the Instagram influencer.

Welcome to the 2020s.

The genius of Hou's posts is hard to miss. There will be people on Zhihu and Twitter and who-knows-where-else who will criticize Hou for exoticizing Nepal and its people. Those criticisms are stupid. Read the comments beneath the tweets and you will see how the denizens of Nepal feel about being reduced to exoticized objects of aesthetic contemplation: they love it. People usually do. As long as we are being reduced to something lovely, most of humankind is happy, even eager, to be transformed into objects of romance and fantasy. Fantasy is flattering."