China vows to construct socialist cultural power

Standard

October 19, 2011

BEIJING, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) — The 17th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) concluded its sixth plenary session in Beijing Tuesday, adopting a guideline to improve the nation’s cultural soft power and advocate Chinese culture.

It was the first time for the CPC’s decision-makers to focus on cultural issues in the Party’s plenary session over the past 15 years.

After China’s eye-catching economic achievements in the past three decades, the session is regarded by observers as a strong signal and will for the country to score higher in cultural field.

“What Chinese people should do after their economic boom is a question we must answer,” said Wan Junren, professor of philosophy department with Tsinghua University.

China has surpassed Japan to become the world’s second largest economy. Even during the international financial crisis, the Chinese economy kept steady and fast growth.

According to a report released by National Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday, China’s GDP expanded 9.1 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of the year, despite a downturn of the world economy.

However, facing a series of outstanding economic statistics, the CPC’s decision-making body still has kept a strong sense of anxiety and consciousness of hardship about lagging behind.

A statement issued by the session on Tuesday said as a major form of support for national unity and a source of creativity, China’s cultural industry will play a more critical part in the country’s economic and social development.

Culture is emerging as an important part of the country’s comprehensive competitiveness in today’s world, and China is bearing a tougher task to protect “cultural security” and feeling the urgency of enhancing its soft power and the international influence of its own culture.

The Chinese cultural industries are showing vigorous vitality. The total box office of movies screened in China last year raked in 10 billion yuan (1.53 billion U.S. dollars), an amount 10 times that in 2002. Chinese press publishing industry has achieved a total out-put value of one trillion yuan in 2010, tripling the amount of 2002.

But both the Chinese leadership and the common people have not regarded the country as a world cultural power.

Minister of Culture Cai Wu said that culture is soft power, and the government must pay more attention to culture and creativity to improve the quality of economic growth.

Although China has become the world’s largest producer of TV series, the ratio of imported productions and exported ones is 15:1. The American TV drama series Friends, Sex and the City as well as Japanese and Korean dramas are often more popular among young Chinese than domestic ones.

China is one of the main OEM countries for Apple’s iPhone and iPad products, but many Chinese Apple fans query when a Chinese-version of Steve Jobs will emerge given China’s comparatively weak creativity in its cultural industry and electronics sector.

By contrast, China’s Asian neighbor the Republic of Korea (ROK) has taken a lead in exporting its culture which achieved an annual export value of more than 100 million U.S. dollars for TV series 10 years ago.

In 2009, the export value of ROK Internet gaming products was 10 times of that of China, and ROK movie export value was seven times of Chinese.

“Although Chinese government has vowed to both develop material and spiritual progresses for nearly 30 years, the need of material wealth is more prominent for Chinese people who have suffered poverty for a long time,” said Feng Jicai, vice chairman of China Federation of Literary and Art Circles.

“That’s why the spiritual or cultural civilization is lagging behind,” Feng said.

The session’s communique said that China will build a well-off society of a higher level by providing its people with not only ample material life, but also a healthy and rich cultural life.

The ambition to become a culture power shows the CPC’s top leaders are facing up to such a reality that some problems which can not be solved by economic growth should be tried through cultural construction, said Meng Jian, vice dean of Journalism School of Fudan University.

“If China’s economic construction is to pursue common enrichment, the cultural construction aims at pursuing social consensus,” Meng said.

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About B.J. Murphy

I'm a young socialist and Transhumanist activist within the East Coast region, who writes for the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET), India Future Society, and Serious Wonder. I'm also the Social Media Manager for Serious Wonder, an Advisory Board Member for the Lifeboat Foundation, and a Co-Editor for Fight Back! News.

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