China’s growing economic, political, and military capacity is the most geopolitically significant development of the 21st century, one which is already being branded the ‘Asian century.’ Certainly the recent economic decline of the US and Europe plays directly into the hands of China’s nationalists, who yearn for a return to past glory and who seek symbolic retribution for almost two centuries of foreign oppression and humiliation.
China has the oldest recorded written civilisation in the world and is a land of many cultural treasures. But internationally, is China’s culture admired or is it just respected? Is ‘brand China’ attractive? In 2011, former President Hu Jintao lamented China’s cultural weakness (22), saying: ‘The overall strength of China’s culture and its international influence is not commensurate with China’s international status. The international culture of the West is strong while we are weak.’
Enter the cultural and creative industries. These ‘new’ industries have generated frenzied debate amongst China’s policy makers: but where should the emphasis be: on creativity or culture? The cultural industries, the terminology favoured by conservatives in the Ministry of Culture, are touted as ‘soft power industries’, a far cry from the propaganda state model that existed from the 1950s to the 1970s in which commercial culture had no place.
Read more at Asian Creative Transformations