Why Australia makes diplomatic errors in Asia – Article 1

Australia’s biggest challenge in relating to Asia is culture.

OUR culture, not theirs.

We have seen it recently with China and our call for an inquiry into the origins of Covid19 – surely a topic for behind the scenes diplomacy but it became a public fight and still bubbles along.

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In our culture “if I am right, I will speak up, name and shame”.

In Asian culture, if I am right, I might speak but only “around the bush” and in a way that “saves face” and preserves relationship.

This is no small difference – it is the gulf that divides us from reaching our potential in our region.

“Saving face” is a part of Asian culture – so pointing the finger when something has gone wrong is the last thing we should do – better outcomes come from cultural awareness.

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We all know the best diplomacy happens behind closed doors. The above might explain why so much of Australia’s diplomacy is conducted on the front page and the TV news.

This is the first in a series on “Why Australia makes diplomatic errors in Asia”.

Author: Stephen Manallack

Former President, Australia India Business Council, Victoria and Author, You Can Communicate; Riding the Elephant; Soft Skills for a Flat World (published by Tata McGraw-Hill INDIA); Communicating Your Personal Brand. Director, EastWest Academy Pty Ltd and Trainer/Speaker/Mentor in Leadership, Communication and Cross Cultural Communication. Passionate campaigner for closer western relations with India. Stephen Manallack is a specialist on “Doing Business with India” and advisor/trainer on “Cross-Cultural Understanding”. He is a Director of EastWest Academy Pty Ltd which provides strategic advice and counsel regarding business relations with India. A regular speaker in India on leadership and global communication, his most recent speaking tour included a speech to students of the elite Indian university, Amity University, in Noida. He also spoke at a major Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) global summit, the PR Consultants Association of India in Delhi, the Symbiosis University in Pune and Cross-Cultural Training for Sundaram Business Services in Chennai. He has visited India on business missions on 10 occasions and led three major trade missions there. He provides cross-cultural training – Asia and the west.

One thought on “Why Australia makes diplomatic errors in Asia – Article 1”

  1. Brilliant cross-cultural analysis of the current diplomatic situation. Looking forward to reading the rest of this series Stephen. I always enjoy receiving your articles.

    Liked by 1 person

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