Report: China should stress modern culture

10:31, February 19, 2011      

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Experts: Soft power should be used to promote modern Chinese culture

China should strive to gain more cultural soft power by discussing its current culture rather than lingering over its traditional culture, said one of the country's top think tanks on Friday.

"We have emphasized our traditional culture to an extreme extent in the past decade, but we don't have a strong voice in international dialogues," Yi Junqing, director of the Central Compilation and Translation Bureau, said during a press conference for the release of the Annual Report on China's Cultural Soft Power Research (2010).

In general, a country's soft power refers to its ability to get other countries to share its goals and values through the use of attraction, rather than of coercion or payments. Yi said he thinks China can reap great benefits from wielding soft power, but so far has failed to do so.

"Some Westerners take China to be purely an economic animal, since we have been unable to explain and show our modern culture to the outside world in an effective and proper way," he said.

The bureau's report includes explorations of the "fundamental theory research" and "strategic research" that has been conducted into China's cultural soft power, said Zhang Guozuo, chief editor of the document and director of the Research Center for the Soft Power of Chinese Culture.

It also contains a general survey of research on the soft power present within traditional Chinese culture, he said.

Minister of Education Yuan Guiren told China Daily in a previous interview that the global expansion of the Confucius Institutes was a good way to promote soft power and appeal to more students abroad.

By the end of 2009, some 282 Confucius Institutes and 272 Confucius classrooms, both of which offer instruction in Chinese language and culture, had been established in 88 countries. They had received more than 260,000 students in 2009, almost doubled the number in 2008, according to the institutes' headquarters.

Experts conceded it will be a long time before China can become a "strong country" by promoting its cultural soft power. But steps are already being taken along that path.

A statue of the ancient sage Confucius was recently erected beside Tian'anmen Square. The 9.5-meter-tall bronze figure outside the National Museum of China is the latest evidence of the country's efforts to promote the great philosopher as a symbol of traditional Chinese culture.

For similar reasons, a promotional video featuring some of the nation's most famous faces were showed in Times Square in New York from Jan 17 to Feb 14. The display, which opened a day before President Hu Jintao's arrival for a four-day state visit to the United States, is part of a major campaign to promote China's image among Americans.

By Chen Jia, China Daily
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