China will attach more importance to cultural development, and conduct cultural exchanges with foreign countries more actively, so as to enhance the international influence of Chinese culture, Premier Wen Jiabao stated in the government work report March 5. Meanwhile, "soft power" has become a key word at China's 2 Sessions (NPC and CPPCC), so we interviewed several experts and scholars about how to improve China's soft power.
China's soft power is on the rise.
The term soft power was coined in the early 1990s by Joseph Nye, a professor at Harvard University. Soft power has gained wide currency throughout the world, and is now regarded as an important indicator of comprehensive national strength.
Joseph Nye pointed out that soft power is in contradistinction to hard power such as economy and military. It includes factors in fields such as culture, political system, and media, and can affect the country's development potential and popularity. Among them, culture is the core, for it fully reflects a country's influence, cohesion, and popularity.
China's cultural influence index ranks 7th among 131 countries worldwide, behind the U.S., Germany, the U.K., France, Italy, and Spain. In 1990, China's cultural influence ranked 11th. In addition, China's cultural influence has risen from second to first in Asia, according to the "China Modernization Report 2009: Study of Cultural Modernization" released by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).
"The ascent of China's cultural influence reflects clearly the rise of China's soft power," said He Chuanqi, director of China Center for Modernization Research under the CAS.
China has achieved remarkable results in improving soft power.
China needs to take all kinds of measures to educate the world about China so they can love it. The country began to take soft power development as part of the national development strategy in 2007, and has formulated the policy on China's soft power development which fit both Chinese and international conditions, said Dr. Li Zhi, associate researcher at the International Communications Research Center of Communication University of China.
On the one hand, China has been striving to build the Chinese cultural value system and increase its influence in the world, and has achieved remarkable results. For example, the country has established 282 Confucius Institutes and 241 Confucius Classrooms worldwide, a total of 523 located in 87 countries and regions within five years from 2004 to 2009, making Confucius Institutes the bridgehead for teaching Chinese abroad, carrying out exchanges and cooperation in domestic and overseas education, cultural fields, and others. He believes that Confucius Institutes have greatly promoted the globalization of Chinese culture, and have increased the popularity and reputation of China.
Furthermore, China has assumed more international responsibilities, dispatching international search and rescue teams to earthquake-hit Haiti and Chile, assisting the post-war reconstruction in Afghanistan and bringing world peace and hope by engaging in peace-keeping missions. The activities have enhanced worldwide countries' recognition of China. Meanwhile, China has actively participated in formulating international rules, providing the international community with more public goods such as international rules and solutions. Sponsoring the Boao Forum for Asia and hosting the 6-party talks on the Korean nuclear issue both were the loudest voice made by China on the global stage. When the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit faced the crisis of failure, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao put forth an amendment on energy-saving and emissions reduction that has been popular with many country members. This was an excellent illustration of China's soft power.
There is great potential for the development of China's soft power
Compared with the rise in economic strength, there is still great potential for the development of China's soft power, particularly the cultural industry. Data shows that the cultural industry of the U.S. occupies 43 percent of the world's cultural market share, while the Asia-Pacific region has only 19 percent of the market share, including 15 percent taken by Japan and Australia and 4 percent by China and other countries and regions.
A county rich in cultural resources does not have to be a strong cultural industry. "China needs to inherit and innovate," said Han Bo, vice chief of the China's soft power research group at Peking University. China should pay consistent attention to and increase investments in the development of China's cultural soft power that is mainly represented by the cultural industry. He added that developing the cultural industry by introducing and learning from excellent foreign cultures and focusing on building up and popularizing the modern core values of the Chinese nation is the principal approach of enhancing soft power.
He believes that China's cultural modernization should focus on modernizing cultural lives, and strive to modernize cultural content and boost cultural competitiveness. Meanwhile, the implementation of the "strategy for revitalizing Chinese culture" will boost the cultural competitiveness and develop China into a country that is rich in cultural resources and has enormous international cultural trade.
Li added that disseminating Chinese culture to the world is a key part of raising China's cultural soft power, so developing a media system with international exposure will become an inevitable trend. Preventing giant foreign media agencies from monopolizing the right of voice, enabling foreign people to hear the voice of China and popularizing actual and outstanding Chinese culture is of vital importance in enhancing China's soft power.
By People's Daily Online