Flash Points

Themed journeys through our archive.

New and Unusual Forms of Diplomacy

From gastrodiplomacy to Xiplomacy.

Nixon and Chou En-Lai eating
Nixon and Chou En-Lai eating
Then-U.S. President Richard Nixon holds his chopsticks as Chinese Premier Chou En-lai and Shanghai Communist Party leader Chang Chun-chiao reach in front of him for food at a banquet in China in 1972. Bettmann/Getty Archive

In 2002, Bangkok launched the Global Thai initiative, which sought to increase the number of Thai restaurants worldwide. The campaign was a classic example of what is now known as gastrodiplomacy, or the practice of using a country’s cuisine to influence other states—and the reason there are so many Thai restaurants in the United States today.

In recent decades, new and unorthodox forms of diplomacy have appeared (or reappeared), from Thailand’s culinary diplomacy to Russia’s memory diplomacy to China’s “Xiplomacy.” The essays below explore these geopolitical tactics and the nature of their success.—Chloe Hadavas

How Countries Use Food to Win Friends and Influence People

Gastrodiplomacy has gone mainstream, Fabio Parasecoli writes.

In 2002, Bangkok launched the Global Thai initiative, which sought to increase the number of Thai restaurants worldwide. The campaign was a classic example of what is now known as gastrodiplomacy, or the practice of using a country’s cuisine to influence other states—and the reason there are so many Thai restaurants in the United States today.

In recent decades, new and unorthodox forms of diplomacy have appeared (or reappeared), from Thailand’s culinary diplomacy to Russia’s memory diplomacy to China’s “Xiplomacy.” The essays below explore these geopolitical tactics and the nature of their success.—Chloe Hadavas


People celebrate Lunar New Year at a Chinese restaurant in Bangkok on Feb. 12, 2021.
People celebrate Lunar New Year at a Chinese restaurant in Bangkok on Feb. 12, 2021.

People celebrate Lunar New Year at a Chinese restaurant in Bangkok on Feb. 12, 2021. MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images

How Countries Use Food to Win Friends and Influence People

Gastrodiplomacy has gone mainstream, Fabio Parasecoli writes.


A Russian World War II propaganda poster
A Russian World War II propaganda poster

A Russian World War II propaganda poster depicts a soldier holding a large red flag in each hand in 1945. The slogan reads “We Won!” V. Ivanov/Laski Diffusion/Getty Images

Moscow Is Using Memory Diplomacy to Export Its Narrative to the World

Putin is pushing Russian revisionist history to bolster the Kremlin’s influence abroad and its legitimacy at home, Jade McGlynn writes.


Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

Chinese President Xi Jinping looks on during the handover ceremony at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bangkok on Nov. 19.Jack Taylor/AFP via Getty Images

China Is Locked Into Xi Jinping’s Aggressive Diplomacy

“Xiplomacy” is a political inevitability, Kathy Huang writes.


An Indian soldier watches a British Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter at the United Nations' headquarters in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on May 9, 2000.
An Indian soldier watches a British Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter at the United Nations' headquarters in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on May 9, 2000.

An Indian soldier watches a British Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter at the United Nations’ headquarters in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on May 9, 2000.PETER MACDIARMID/AFP via Getty Images

How Wars End

The shifting nature of war has made peacemaking more difficult. A new kind of back-channel diplomacy can help, FP’s Janine di Giovanni writes.


In this picture taken on March 2, 2017, a cell for inmates waiting to see the prison medic is seen at Stanley Prison in Hong Kong.
In this picture taken on March 2, 2017, a cell for inmates waiting to see the prison medic is seen at Stanley Prison in Hong Kong.

In this picture taken on March 2, 2017, a cell for inmates waiting to see the prison medic is seen at Stanley Prison in Hong Kong.ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP via Getty Images

Why ‘Hostage Diplomacy’ Works

From China to Iran to the United States, arbitrary detention is an immoral—and often effective—pressure tactic, FP’s Stephen M. Walt writes.

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