Gastrodiplomacy, Sunset Diplomacy, What Kind of Diplomacy Are Them?

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Gastrodiplomacy, Sunset Diplomacy, What Kind of Diplomacy Are Them?

Some of you may have heard of gastrodiplomacy or diplomacy through food, but have you heard of sunset diplomacy? And how is it different from ordinary diplomacy?

There are different kinds of diplomacy that are practiced in relations between countries. Nowadays, not only states are the actors, but also non-state actors. The reason is that the growing field of study of international relations between states means that the actors involved in relations between states are also growing. Non-state actors can be corporations, NGOs, academic groups, activists, or civil society.

Diplomacy involving non-state actors is usually conducted in sectors that are low politics, such as tourism, culture, technology, and education, as opposed to high politics, such as politics, defense, and security. This approach to diplomacy often makes use of a country's soft power. Soft power itself means attributes in influencing other countries in the form of advantages possessed by a country that does not use physical, but non-physical, for example, culture. Soft power is currently widely used by countries in the world, even in Southeast Asia. The reason is that this type of diplomacy is more effective in influencing other countries without having to make sacrifices or spend a lot of money.

Of course, you have heard about the student exchange among ASEAN countries, right? This is the use of soft power by the governments of ASEAN countries through citizen diplomacy, where the community is an element of this diplomacy. This professional exchange can be used for a country because it plays an important role. With direct contact between people, especially the international community, this can be the most effective way to change the perception of others, even a country towards its culture and image. For the ASEAN countries themselves, this diplomacy serves to promote their cultural richness and diversity to the people of other ASEAN countries.

Going back to the title, you may have heard the term gastrodiplomacy.
This is because diplomacy through food is very often used by many countries, including ASEAN countries. This diplomacy refers to the use of a country's food specialties as a diplomatic tool to help other countries understand the culture of that country. An example is Thailand through its gastrodiplomacy efforts of "Kitchen to the World" and "The Food Basket of Asia". This has greatly increased the number of Thai restaurants abroad from 5,500 in 2001 to 8,000 in 2003. Thailand itself is the first originator of the practice of gastrodiplomacy in the Southeast Asian region. One of Thailand's goals in using this diplomatic strategy is to promote its cuisine to other countries.

Then, at the ASEAN Summit in Indonesia a few days ago, the word "sunset diplomacy" was coined on the website. Sunset diplomacy itself can refer to the moment when such diplomacy is conducted, namely when the sun is about to set. This type of diplomacy is used by the President of Indonesia to promote Labuan Bajo as one of the attractive tourist destinations in Indonesia.

Another interesting type of diplomacy is celebrity diplomacy, which uses celebrities as diplomatic agents. The goal of celebrity diplomacy is to influence public opinion and gain public support for a policy or campaign. An example is the Indonesian artist, Melody JKT48, who became the goodwill ambassador of Japan ASEAN on food and agriculture. Celebrity diplomacy also exists because it bridges previously conventional international relations to create new diplomatic spaces.

Have you ever seen a cartoon from Malaysia, Upin-Ipin? It turns out that this is also a form of soft power used by Malaysia. Since 2005, the Malaysian government has been giving grants to Les' Copaque, who produced this cartoon, to expand the broadcast of this animation around the world. Not only as entertainment, this animation then carries many messages and interests, and helps Malaysia spread its culture and enhance the country's branding.

On the other hand, Laos' successful energy diplomacy is another example of the use of soft power. By becoming the "Battery of Asia," Laos has been able to create a brand for its country through the use of energy. By working with various companies, Laos was eventually able to use renewable energy in the country to export electricity to other countries. Laos can reach the current point that is inseparable from the country's ability to define what soft power it has.

Diplomacy today is not only focused on state actors. Due to the development of relations between countries, it also affects other actors involved in state relations. In this case, the use of soft power can be the best option for conducting diplomacy between countries. Because the scope and types are so broad and diverse, this can make it easier for a country to conduct relations with other countries, to improve its image in other countries.


Lutabingwa, Jesse, Arshad Bashir. Cultural Diplomacy Through Educational and Cultural Exchanges: The Case of North Carolina-Pakistan School Exchange Project

Kominfo. (2023). Sunset Diplomacy on White Pinisi.

Gracva, Auliva. (2021). Strategi Gastrodiplomacy Thailand untuk Mengubah Image Melalui Kitchen of The World tahun 2003-2010. Skripsi Universitas Islam Indonesia

Lipscomb, Anna. (2019). Culinary Relations: Gastrodiplomacy in Thailand, South Korea, and Taiwan. The Yale review of International Studies (YRIS)

Rauf, Nur Rahmi. (2018). Kartun Upin-Ipin Sebagai Instrumen Soft Diplomacy dalam hubungan Malaysia-Indonesia. 

The Jakarta Post. (2018). JKT 48's Melody Named Japan-ASEAN Goodwill Ambassador

Andrew F. Cooper, 2008, Beyond One Image Fits All: Bono and the Complexity of Celebrity Diplomacy, Global Governance: A Review of Multilateralism and International Organization, Vol. 14 No.3.

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