The Foreign Service Journal - December 2017

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | DECEMBER 2017 27 Recruitment and Training in the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Immediately after selection, new hires complete a six-month training course designed to familiarize them with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese diplomatic system. They then normally spend their first three-year assignment at MFA headquarters in Beijing and are not considered full diplomats until their first international posting. As they progress through their careers, junior officers participate in a number of training courses—rang- ing from a few days or weeks to as long as two years—to be eligible for promotion. A unique feature of their professional development is that approximately 140 officers are sent to major national and international universities annually to complete a full year of graduate-level academic study. Selection for this additional academic training is a strong indicator for future promotion to leadership ranks. Advancement to key leadership positions can occur at a relatively young age, and many ascend to ambassadorial posts by age 40. —From“Developing Diplomats: Comparing Form and Culture Across Diplomatic Services,” Country Report: China, pp. 40-58. Max12Max (ownwork) [CCBY-SA4.0],viaWikimediaCommons The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, Beijing. their histories and cultures are, despite the many structural and procedural similarities among them. From these diverse examples, is it possible to identify the ideal diplomat? Surely not: skilled diplomats come in various shapes and sizes. Some are master strategists, others are gifted linguists with deep regional expertise, and still others are experienced administrators and leaders. Diplomatic services need officers with these varied talents: the attributes one seeks for the head of the planning staff are not the same as those sought for the director of a regional bureau or a United Nations ambassador. Vive la difference! There are, nonetheless, certain practices these services share that ensure they will nurture and develop skilled and effective professional diplomats. All of them recruit highly qualified offi- cers, many drawn from elite institutions like the École Nationale d’Administration (ENA) in France and the Moscow State Insti- tute of International Relations (MGIMO) in Russia, which are specifically geared for the preparation of public servants. And all provide entry-level training designed to familiarize officers with the ministry as well as to acquire diplomatic skills. The Brazilian, German and Indian services have the most extensive initial training of the eight countries studied, ranging from three semesters in Brazil to as long as three years in Ger- many. France, Russia and the United Kingdom do not provide the same level of initial training, relying instead on their rigorous selection process from elite institutions and the professional edu- cation entering officers received there before joining the service. Several services offer focused training courses at various points throughout a career. Brazil and China link mandatory mid-career training courses to eligibility for promotion, while France requires mid-career management training after 15 years of service. The German and French services seem to be the most advanced in promoting a “work-life balance” through generous family leave policies, flextime work arrangements and job place- ment help for partners.