Soft power is a highly influential tool used by countries to persuade others that their culture and values are desirable. The concept is practiced by all countries in some approach, for example America with Hollywood films and South Korea with K-pop. Despite the success soft power can create, it is not coercive and is determined by its ability to appeal and attract others.
China’s Confucius Institutes worldwide are an increasing attempt to spread the cultural values and language among outsiders. However, the tight control of what can be said about human rights or the independence of Taiwan clash, particularly in Australia, with the ideal of freedom of speech and inquiry.
As most of the Western world sees China as somewhat “unfriendly”, China is devoting billions to try and refashion its image.
Chinese President Xi Jinping shares a specific strategy: “To give a good Chinese narrative and better communicate China’s messages to the world. To be portrayed as a civilised place featuring a rich history, with good government and developed economy, cultural prosperity and diversity and beautiful mountains and rivers.”
And by what means? Hollywood.
It is anticipated that by 2018 China will become the world’s biggest box office, overtaking America and doubling before its peak.
Wang Jianlin, the Rupert Murdoch of China, is somewhat responsible as he continues to acquire Hollywood, one piece at a time. So far he has bought Legendary Entertainment, Dick Clark Studios and AMC entertainment from the US, Odeon from Europe and Hoyts in Australia.
With the Oriental Movie Metropolis in Qingdao set to be operational next year and thirty big-budget films in the making, Hollywood producers are now considering the “China Factor” in any future profitability.
Harvard professor Joseph Nye and inventor of the term ‘soft power’ says “China’s soft power has fundamental flaws. ..soft power is usually more successful if it comes from the grass roots and is not a dictated program.”
Professor Nye also believes it will be some time yet before China overtakes America as the dominant global power, so in the meantime, get ready for more Chinese heroes at the movies.
The original article can be found here.