Skip to content

The Strategy of Chinese Culture Going Global, Part I

{Editor’s Note: In 2011, the Central Party School published a book with the title, An Interpretation of the Major Theoretical and Pragmatic Issues that Concerned the Party and Government Cadres after the Sixth Plenary Session of the Seventeenth Central Committee. The writing provides an excellent explanation of the Chinese Communist Party’s strategy behind promoting Chinese culture to the world. This is the first part, explaining the basic ideas of the cultural strategy.} {1}

First, the basic significance of the strategy for the culture to go global

The Sixth Plenary Session of the Seventeen Central Committee (of the Chinese Communist Party) passed “The Decision of the CCP Central Committee on Major Issues Pertaining to Deepening Reform of the Cultural System and Promoting the Great Development and Flourishing of Socialist Culture.” The Decision pointed out that [China should] promote Chinese culture to the world. (We will) develop multi-channel, multi-form, and multi-level cultural exchanges with the outside world; broadly participate in dialogue on world civilization, encourage cultures to learn from each other; and enhance the appeal and influence of Chinese culture around the world. (We will) be innovative in our external publicity methods, strengthen the right of expression in international discourse; and enhance the international community’s knowledge and understanding of China’s basic national conditions, values, development path, and domestic and foreign policies. (We will) implement projects that facilitate China’s culture going global; improve policies and measures for supporting cultural products and services in going global; support key mainstream media enterprises in setting up branches overseas; foster internationally competitive export oriented cultural enterprises and intermediary bodies; improve support mechanisms in the areas of dubbing, promoting and consulting; and develop the international cultural market. (We will) strengthen the establishment of Chinese cultural centers and Confucius Institutes abroad, encourage national-level academic groups and art organizations to play a constructive role in appropriate international organizations, and sponsor the translation of outstanding academic achievements and cultural products into foreign languages. (We will) establish culture exchange mechanisms, link inter-government and people-to-people exchanges, make full use of the role of non-public cultural enterprises and non-profit cultural institutions in foreign cultural exchanges, and support overseas Chinese in developing cultural exchanges between China and foreign countries.

The above statement profoundly reveals and succinctly summarizes the basic significance of the strategy of Chinese culture going global. It is to expand the international influence of Chinese culture through external cultural exchanges, external cultural propaganda, and external cultural trade. It is in order to expand the influence of the Chinese culture and enhance the competitiveness of cultural industries, build up the image of China as a cultural power, create an international environment for China’s peaceful development, and further elevate the cultural soft power of contemporary China, thus making a contribution to building China into a socialist cultural power. The basic content has three components. The first is external cultural exchanges. This refers mainly to the cultural diplomacy that the government, the private sector, or the government and private sector joining hands conduct as actors. External cultural exchanges include bilateral exchanges and multilateral exchanges. With the power of cultural flexibility and gentle nurturing methods, the exchanges touch people’s emotions and hearts and also strengthen friendship. Foreign cultural exchanges are an important part of the strategy of Chinese culture going global. The second is the external publicity about Chinese culture. It uses culture as a medium to make full use of modern publicity media and means to explain China to the world and to introduce China, including explaining and introducing China’s basic national conditions, values, development path, internal and external policies, and construction and development achievements. Its main purpose is to establish the image of China as being open to the outside world, a nation of peaceful development, a civilized and progressive society, a country that is building a democracy and the rule-of-law, and is a reformer and innovator. The third is the external cultural trade. A strong external cultural trade is a symbol of the rise of a country’s culture and a fundamental manifestation of its culture going global. Actively participating in the competition in the international cultural market and exporting to the world a large number of modern cultural products with Chinese cultural characteristics and high technological content are the main channels for Chinese culture to go global. Actively cultivating export-oriented brand-name cultural enterprises and brand-name products, and even forming multinational cultural corporations is the key to expanding China’s external cultural trade.

Building a great cultural power and achieving Chinese culture going global has been the hope of the Chinese people for many years. With the continuous advancement of China’s reform and opening up and the sustained development of the economy and society, the conditions are increasingly ready for the vigorous implementation of the strategy for Chinese culture to go global. First, the rapid development of China’s economy has enabled Chinese culture to move gradually out of its weak position in modern times and once again for Chinese culture to have a strong appeal. At the same time, the tremendous improvement of China’s overall national strength has also created a realistic need for foreigners to understand Chinese culture. In modern times, the West has become strong while China fell behind. China became a representative of backward countries. As a result, foreigners have not acknowledged Chinese culture. Not many foreigners have thought that they needed to learn about Chinese culture. Therefore, Chinese culture has had not much influence in the world. However, people in non-Western countries have a strong desire to understand and learn from Western culture, because the Western capitalist powers have a leading position in science, technology, economy, and the military. Non-Western countries will fall behind without learning and they are vulnerable to attacks when they are behind. Therefore, everyone must learn Western languages, science, culture, and technology. Thus, Western culture has the greatest influence worldwide. Similarly, with the continued development and strength of China, the interest, necessity, and motivation of foreigners to learn and study Chinese culture will be increasingly stronger. Second, China’s modern culture is constantly developing and progressing. The sustained development of China’s economy, the substantial increase in the income level of the Chinese population, and the shift in the demand structure from subsistence to well-off, have provided a tremendous demand for the development of modern Chinese culture. The combination of Chinese modern life and its rich, ancient national culture and historical cultural resources have enabled Chinese culture to undergo a modern transformation. This has produced a modern Chinese culture that consists of Chinese national culture and historical cultural elements, which may create a strong appeal to the world. Third, China has a large overseas Chinese community. After the reform and opening up, the Chinese went abroad to study, engage in trade, and emigrate. The population of overseas Chinese has continued to grow. At present, the total number of overseas Chinese is close to 80 million. Overseas Chinese themselves have a huge demand for Chinese cultural products and they will also drive the non-Chinese population’s consumption of Chinese cultural products. In addition, overseas Chinese understand the characteristics of foreign cultural markets and maintain contact with the Chinese domestic market. They can establish links with foreign markets to promote Chinese cultural products. The above three aspects are not only a good condition for Chinese culture to go global; they are also a unique cultural development advantage that China has at present.

{1} Excerpt from Interpretation of the Major Theoretical and Pragmatic Issues Concerned by Party and Government Cadres after the Sixth Plenary Session of the Seventeenth Central Committee. (《十七届六中全会后党政干部关注的重大理论与现实问题解读》), a book published by Central Party School in 2011.