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State Media on the Importance of Culture Reform

[Editor’s Note: After the Sixth Plenary Session of the 17th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) passed a resolution on reforming China’s culture system, China’s official media published a series of articles discussing the significance of reforming the culture system. The following are excerpts from two commentaries published in Outlook Weekly, a publication under Xinhua and People’s Daily.]

Article 1: The CCP’s Path on Culture System Reform since the 16th National Congress of the CCP in 2002 [1]

I. The Importance of Reforming the Culture System

Based on the characteristics of the new phase of our country’s economic and social development, emphasizing the development of culture is the fundamental way to meet people’s spiritual and cultural needs and improve the nation’s ideological, moral, scientific, and cultural qualities. Hu Jintao’s analysis pointed out that, in the new historical stage, one of the issues of great importance is that China has entered a period of rapid growth in the consumption of culture. This results from rapid economic and social development, especially the rise in living standards. People’s need for spirituality and culture is more intense, and culture has become a measure of social civilization and people’s quality of life. … Along with the drastic changes in the economic base, social conditions, the pattern of interests, and ideology, as well as the extensive use of new technologies, people’s thinking is increasingly more independent and prone to change and diversification. Thus there has been a higher demand for the development of advanced socialist culture. Facing the infiltration of other ideologies and cultures, China’s interaction (with the world) and the booming information-based economy, strengthening the development of culture and constantly improving the nation’s ideological, moral, scientific, and cultural qualities have become a central issue that will decide the success or failure of China’s modernization. This enables us to ensure that the reform and modernization are given ideological support, that billions of people are given strong spiritual support, and that economic development and social progress are given powerful intellectual support.

Taking into consideration the new situation of international competition, it is an objective need to stress the development of culture in order to improve the country’s soft power. In the present era, culture’s position and role have become increasingly prominent in the competition for comprehensive national strength. Cultural factors have become increasingly prominent in the economic competition, as well. More and more countries have recognized that improving the soft power of culture as an important development strategy. “Whoever occupies the commanding heights of cultural development will have the advantage in the fierce international competition.”…We can say that, with the frequent blend of ideas and profound ideological and cultural struggles internationally, strengthening the nation’s cultural soft power and enhancing national cohesion and external affinity and influence have become a mandatory requirement to enhance China’s comprehensive national strength. It is also a strategic direction for China’s peaceful development.

II. The Ideological Basis for Culture System Reform

After reforming the economic, political, education, technology, and health care systems, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Committee made a significant decision to deepen reform of the culture system. Since the reform and opening up, especially since the CCP’s 16th National Congress, the Central Committee has earnestly explored reforming the culture system and has developed a series of scientific understandings. These understandings have formed the theoretical basis for the Central Committee’s reform of the culture system.

From the viewpoint of the guiding ideology, culture system reform “must be guided by Deng Xiaoping’s theory and Jiang Zemin’s ‘Three Represents,’ deeply implement the scientific development view, and insist on following the direction of socialist advanced culture…”

The basic principle of the culture system reform is to stick to the “Six Adheres:” “Adhere to the direction of socialist advanced culture,” “adhere to Marxism as the guiding ideological principle and ensure national culture security,” “adhere to the courage to practice, innovate, and establish a new view of the development of culture,” “adhere to placing social benefits as the top priority and striving to achieve a uniformity of social and economic benefits,” “adhere to the coordinated development of cultural undertakings and culture industries,” and “adhere to differentiation, classification, gradual development, and promotion.” (These principles) cover the basic direction, important relationship, and fundamental strategy for culture system reform.

The objective of the culture system reform is to strive for “Six Establishes:” “Establish a scientific, effective macro-cultural management system,” “establish an efficient micro-operational mechanism for cultural production and services,” “establish a cultural industry layout primarily with state-ownership supplemented by other forms of ownership,” “establish a unified, open, competing, and orderly modern cultural market system,” “establish a complete system of cultural innovation,” “establish an open cultural environment to be based primarily on national culture, while absorbing foreign culture that is beneficial and while promoting Chinese culture to the world.” The core of the “Six Establishes” is to complete the culture market system and have a comprehensive plan for macro-management, micro-operation, fostering the culture market, the cultural environment, and the development of foreign relations.

The Central Committee also set up the “Six Paths” to advance culture system reform: “Promote the reform of institutions of culture,” “deepen the reform of culture enterprises,” “speed up the restructuring of the culture field,” “foster a modern market system for culture,” “complete the macro-management mechanism,” and “strengthen (the CCP’s) leadership over culture system reform.”

Article 2: Ren Zhongping (任仲平) [2]: The ‘China Path’ to Build a Powerful Nation through the Development of Culture [3]

I. Foreign Threats to China’s Culture Industry

China’s cultural development will certainly face tests. One test is the fact that, since we joined the WTO, we must open up the domestic culture market even though our culture’s enterprises are significantly weaker than those of Western companies. The second test is the people’s strong spiritual and cultural demands when state-owned culture units exhibit a weak performance. The third one is China’s return to the center of the world economic and diplomatic stage in spite of Western countries’ demonization of China.

A country can’t become a world power if it only exports television sets and not ideology. China’s rise was once called “the most exciting event in the 21st century,” but this rise cannot be just about the rapid increase of material wealth and economic structure remodeling; it should also be accompanied by the spread of the socialist value system and the promotion of Chinese culture. Otherwise, how will China demonstrate the discourse power of socialism with Chinese characteristics?

We are in an international market that is full of a complex social relationships, intense competition, and complicated risks:

– Those who made the rules occupy the high ground and intend to continue to do what worked for them during the economic globalization in order to suppress our cultural production so that it is the lowest link in the world’s chain of production.

– We have the advantage of rich cultural resources and markets, but the West has sufficient capital and mature business practices.

– In China’s free culture market, in addition to the trade deficit in the area of culture products, China also faces the West’s infiltration of its values and ideology..

China’s culture market is under siege. The lack of cultural exchanges and our disadvantages in international competition not only impact our nation’s market share and the success of our businesses, but they also impact the gain and loss of ideology and the strength of our nation’s soft power. Facing the drastic developments, changes, and adjustments in the world and the frequent exchange of ideology and cultural values, if we cannot create our own cultural advantage, we will not be able to promote our socialist cultural ideology to our advantage in the fierce international competition, safeguard our national cultural security, or safeguard our national cultural sovereignty.

[1] Outlook Weekly, “The CCP’s Path on Cultural System Reform Since the 16th National Congress of the CCP,” Oct 17, 2011.
[2] According to People’s Daily Online (, Ren Zhongping (任仲平) is a pen name for a group of editors and commentators at People’s Daily. It’s a homophone for “人民日报重要评论” or “People’s Daily Important Commentary.”
[3] People’s Daily Online, “Ren Zhongping: The ‘China’s Path’ to Build a Powerful Nation via Cultural Development,” Oct 15, 2011.