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Ningbo city branding and public diplomacy under the belt and road initiative in China

Abstract

This paper takes Ningbo as a case study to examine stakeholders’ perceptions of the city image and city branding strategies under China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Using stakeholder approach and in-depth interviews with 53 city officials, residents, businesses, and expatriates in Ningbo, the authors argue that public diplomacy has influenced city branding strategies in the globalizing world. Different stakeholders have different perceptions toward city brand image based on their interests, focuses, and concerns. Expatriates are a crucial external stakeholder group in the city branding process. This study makes both theoretical and empirical contributions. Theoretically, the study contributes to enhance the link between public diplomacy and city branding concepts, thus further bridging the disciplines of international relations and marketing with the inclusion of the expatriates as significant stakeholders. It also provides interview-based empirical data to the studies of public diplomacy and city branding in the Chinese context.

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Correspondence to Shixin Ivy Zhang.

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Zhang, S.I., Wang, Y., Liu, N.X. et al. Ningbo city branding and public diplomacy under the belt and road initiative in China. Place Brand Public Dipl 17, 127–139 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41254-020-00161-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/s41254-020-00161-8

Keywords

  • Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
  • Public diplomacy
  • City branding
  • Stakeholders
  • Place identity