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The trend of cultural diplomacy extends beyond the jurisdiction of the state and encompasses the promotion of "national culture" and interactive international cultural exchange, particularly the functions of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) financed by the government, the paper selects the case study of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) as a non-government organization where the German government finances FES to accomplish some missions of the foreign policies of Germany to have global influence in Vietnam and other countries. The paper argues that the cultural diplomacy of FES has not fully complied with their missions and values of the German government as follows. First, there is the political value conflict between German democratic system where the German political values of civil society, human rights and multi-party system are considered as the threats to the current political system of Vietnam. Second, VCP considers cultural diplomacy as Soviet-style propaganda, where they tend to use the funding of FES as the propaganda tool to disseminate their values and their success, to consolidate the power of Vietnam Communist Party(VCP). Third, as the Western and the Sinic culture conflict emerged, when China uses the sharp power to implicitly counter against the cultural diplomacy of FES (NED, 2017). Thus, FES is not allowed directly to cooperate with civil society in Vietnam. The paper proposes that FES needs to restructure its strategies to partner with civil society sector, rather than only VCP and its partners to strengthen German soft and smart power in Vietnam.The paper has also, relying on a cognitive-logical model, argued that cultural diplomacy is a function that attempts to transform Germany’s (and Vietnam’s) values into Vietnam’s (and German’s) values in order to construct a collaborative mutual understanding of the world for them. The cultural diplomacy function is a developer of the phenomena of ‘meaning’ and ‘development’ for both Germany and Vietnam in the context of their interactions and communications.

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Nguyen Manh Cuong and 1Farshad Badie2

Berlin School of Business and Innovation1

Berlin School of Business and Innovation2


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