Mob diplomacy: how digitalisation can harm diplomacy?

Current geopolitics is characterised by posturing and positioning. This ‘Mob diplomacy’, described in a recent article by Mark Leonard, is amplified online.   

The highest risk of mob diplomacy is in relations between China and the United States. Chinese defence officials reportedly refused to take calls from their US counterparts in response to the balloon incident. The Biden administration felt the need to appear strong in the eyes of the American public, leading to a postponement of Blinken’s trip to Beijing.

The need to signal strength has impacted global foreign policy decisions. Open and honest dialogue between the world’s two superpowers is needed, but it is being hindered by public opinion and a media environment driven by Twitter and instant news alerts.

There is a significant divide between Western and non-Western countries over the shape of the global order. Chinese minister, Wang Yi, argued that all countries should be able to choose their paths, while Kamala Harris and other American speakers tried to rally the rest of the world behind the idea of democracy.

Diplomacy, as a means of resolving conflicts through dialogue, is more important than ever.