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Cai Mingzhao: Present Good Information about China and Spread China’s Voice

[Editor’s Note: Cai Mingzhao, the Vice Minister of the Publicity Department of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Committee and Director of International Communications for the CCP Central Committee, wrote an article for People’s Daily Online on how to make better use of propaganda to promote China’s soft power. In the article Cai discussed how propaganda work can “present good information about China and spread China’s voice” overseas. The following is an excerpt from his article] [1]

At the National Propaganda and Ideology Conference, Comrade Xi Jingping gave us directions, saying that we need to be diligent in doing well with overseas publicity; renovating publicity channels, and working hard to create new concepts, criteria, and expressions that will have the objective of establishing a connection between China and the overseas community, presenting good information about China, and spreading China’s voice.

I. Further promote the China Dream overseas; use the China Dream as the guideline to present good information about China

Realizing the China Dream and the renaissance of the Chinese nation is the most gigantic and glorious story in modern China. The China Dream has inspired more than 1.3 billion Chinese people. They are pursing and realizing the dream with their hard work. In order to present good information about China, we must follow comrade Xi Jingping’s direction, which is to further promote the China Dream overseas while giving an overall, precise, and lively picture of the China Dream. First of all, we need to make it clear that the China Dream demonstrates the close connection between history, current times, and the future. We can consider it a basic fact that the China Dream is the foundation for a prosperous China, the revitalization of the nation, and the happiness of our people. It is the dream and fine wish of our nation which carries significance in Chinese characteristics, ethnic flavor, and our cultural foundation. Secondly, we should focus on the fact that the China Dream is the dream of our people and make it clear that the China Dream demonstrates the unity between the dreams of our country, the ethnic groups in China, and each individual. The realization of the China Dream depends on our people. It will constantly bring happiness to our people. Thirdly, we should focus on the fact that China is the largest developing nation in the world. We continue to face difficulties and challenges. It will take great effort to realize the China Dream. Fourthly, we should focus on the development of our belief while walking on a peaceful path and making it clear that the China Dream is a dream of openness, tolerance, cooperation, and mutual benefit. It has a connection with the dreams of every nation. Realizing the China Dream would not only benefit the Chinese People but also the people around the world.

In order to present good information about China, we need to explain what Chinese characteristics means. We need to be clear that there are differences in historic tradition, cultural heritage, and national conditions for every country and ethnic group. Their development paths must all have their own unique characteristics. We need to make it clear that socialism with Chinese characteristics is imbedded in the glorious Chinese culture. It represents the wishes of the Chinese people while it meets the development requirements of China and the new era. We need to make clear that the uniqueness of China’s cultural tradition, its unique historic mission, and its national condition determine that China must walk the development path that fits its own characteristics.

In order to present good information about China, we need to provide a good description about China’s current situation and the direction of its future development. As China is making speedy progress, international society is becoming more and more focused on the question of “where China comes from and where China is going.” We must address this question in order to present good information about China. We need to address any doubts so that international society can understand China from an overall perspective, objectively and rationally. We need to have them understand China’s growth and let them know the tremendous achievements gained through economic development, as well as the transformation the Chinese people have achieved. We need to further explain China’s path and the reason why China took the path that it did in order to make progress; use facts to show the reasonableness and legitimacy of China’s political system, its economic policy, and people’s everyday living; clarify the challenges we face and the measures that we use to overcome those challenges; and use facts to show that a developing country like China, which has a population of 1.3 billion, faces unprecedented difficulties and struggles during its modernization. China is confident and capable of overcoming these difficulties and struggles while maintaining healthy economic growth and social advancement. We must explain China’s future and let people know that China will continue to focus on economic development, promote its reform and open door policy, and achieve the goal of “two 100 years.” We must clarify that China will persistently be open and make peaceful progress using a peaceful international environment while maintaining and promoting world peace in return. Through all of the above points, we will let international society understand China better, help them form reasonable expectations about our progress, and minimize any doubts and misjudgments.

II. Strengthen the effort to develop overseas publicity and spread China’s voice

In order to spread China’s voice well, we need to strengthen our effort to develop overseas publicity

In order to strengthen the development of overseas publicity, we need to build world class media. Our media are the driving force behind overseas publicity. Expansion of our media power is a basic component of our ability to improve overseas publicity. China has global media power but is not a media giant. We lack world class media that carry international influence. In order to change the current status, we need to reallocate resources and transform the advantage of having a large number of media into one of having high quality media. We need to speed up the development of traditional media with new media while still using traditional media such as newspapers, news agencies, radio, and television as a base. We need to utilize new technology and applications fully in order to come up with new communication channels for the new media and gain an advantage in media communication competiveness. We need to use both hardware and software with more focus on software development and make breakthroughs in streamlining Internet editing, expanding information content, improving sales channels and technology, attracting and developing talent, and producing elite programs well-known throughout the world. We need to continue to improve the quantity of exclusive news and original news, as well as the expansion into cable television overseas. We need to pay attention to the ongoing news around the world and report on it objectively, comprehensively, and truthfully. We need to integrate China’s value system into those reports and provide China’s perspective so that the overseas audiences can observe international society and affairs and be guided in understanding China’s position on those issues.

In order to improve the effectiveness of overseas publicity, we need come up with a new format to “step out.” We need to speed up our stepping out if we want to gain control and a leadership role in the complicated and competitive overseas publicity market so that we can become a part of it very quickly. What has proven to be an effective way to improve the effectiveness of our overseas publicity is to develop our media overseas. We can move the planning, production and sales to a designated country or region and gradually settle in. We can hire the locals as employees, produce local news, and accurately understand which product and programs would fit the customer’s needs and requirements. Eventually we should localize China’s voice. We should guide and assist the domestic media to relocate to some key countries and regions. We should have a solid plan and program in place so we can share resources, produce programs, interact with reporters from other media, assist each other on technology, and collaborate in using new media.

We need to involve the entire society in order to improve our overseas publicity. This is a systemic project that requires top level planning, adequate resource allocation and utilization of skills from all levels. We also need to gain support from the policy makers and stimulation from the market mechanism. We need to train a group of culture enterprises that have internationally competitive advantages and teach them to combine sales activities together with displaying our nation’s image. We need to establish a group of think tanks and NGOs, encourage them to work with the international community, and support them in conducting international exchanges and collaboration so they can play a bigger role in voicing China’s opinion during various international events. Overseas publicity in local channels is a key component as well. We need to pay special attention to using the geographic advantage of those provinces that sit on the border and combine the overseas publicity at the national level with that at the local level. We should use the local working system, brands, and projects in order to generate a unified impact.

III. Strengthen the work to build a discourse system and put effort into creating new concepts, criteria, and expressions that will fit both the domestic and the international environment

In order to present good information about China and spread China’s voice, it is important to build an international discourse system. Whether we can present good information about China or spread China’s voice, the key is whether the audience wants to hear it, and whether they can understand and share our message and interact positively with us. Comrade Xi Jinping directed that we should put great effort into creating new concepts, criteria, and expressions. This gave us clear direction on how we can strengthen China’s international discourse rights.

To create new concepts, criteria, and expressions that will fit both the domestic and international environment, we need to focus on the word “international.” Making it fit both the domestic and international environment means that the concept we need to convey should meet the requirements of China’s current situation with its unique characteristics while it should also fit foreign language customs and expressions and be easy for international society to understand and accept. Creating an expression for this type of concept is a major renovation in overseas publicity work. It will help China to be able to improve its communications and exchanges with the world and also help international society to understand China objectively and rationally. Therefore, we should not only be persistent in promoting Chinese culture, center on China’s core values, and fully display our own value system, current situation, position and opinions. We should also show our tolerance and openness as well as actively report our understanding, opinions. and responsibility for the fate of the human world and world affairs. We should show more about the common ground and common interests between China and the international community. We should be familiar with the thought process and language habits of international audiences. In the meantime, we need to be open minded, open our view, accept and adapt to various changes, actively learn and borrow the civil values that are beneficial, while constantly enlarging our expression of various concepts so that we fit better into the international discourse system.

To create new concepts, criteria, and expressions that will fit both the domestic and international environment, we need to focus on the word “new.” A new environment and changes will help us better adapt to the climate change both domestically and internationally and will better serve the work of the Party and our country. First of all, we should take it as an important area to develop a comprehensive, accurate process that can be effective in presenting, explaining, and spreading the new concepts, achievements, and experiences of the new leadership. We should specifically explain what the China Dream is as well as the new measures, new ideas, and international concepts from the reform and open door era. Secondly, for those new expressions and concepts that the outside world has used to describe China, we need to describe accurately what progress China has made in those areas. Our democratic human rights, media management, ethnic, and religious issues, and our legal system have been the focus of the outside world for a long period of time. They are definitely not short of misunderstandings and biased opinions. We should use our real experience and create new concepts and expressions to describe our situation, our position, and our progress in order to guide international society in objectively and fairly understanding and facing these issues. Thirdly, for those important issues that draw the world’s attention, we should state our opinion and be clear on our position. Currently, climate change, financial security, global governance, and Internet security have become the common topics that draw the world’s attention. In order to solve these issues, it requires international society’s collaborative effort. China, as a responsible country, needs to raise our opinion, state our position, start a dialog, cooperate with the international society, and contribute our effort to solve these issues.

Creating new concepts, criteria and expressions that will fit both the domestic and international environment requires the support of studies and theories. Those people who work in this field and those in the fields of philosophy and sociology need to conduct deeper research on major theories and practical issues. They also need to do further research on the issues on which international society is focused, further understand the communication channels that different cultures use, and try to make breakthroughs on the key issues using our international discourse rights. We should build an effective discourse rights system that not only has Chinese characteristics but can also enable us to have an effective dialog with international society.

[1] People’s Daily Online, “Cai Mingzhao: Present Good Information about China and Spread China’s Voice,” October 10, 2013.