The Effective Spreading of Soft Power in Chinese Culture

By Wang, Ailing; Hong, Xiaonan | Studies in Sociology of Science, June 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

The Effective Spreading of Soft Power in Chinese Culture


Wang, Ailing, Hong, Xiaonan, Studies in Sociology of Science


1. CULTURAL TRANSMISSION AND CULTURAL SOFT POWER

Cultural ties to a nation's moral ideals and values not only constitute the country's "belief system" and provide the basis of legitimacy for people's social action; they also confirm the identity of a nation's intrinsic anthropological basis. Therefore, culture is not only a country's institutional foundation, a power or strength, but also the core of power which determines the existence of a national legality and rationality.

In his book, Soft Power: The World's Political Success, Joseph Nye proposes that soft power is essentially a "force of the second level" for those who do not have a real threat or reward to get their desired results. As with Adam Smith's "invisible hand", which is a way to nurture the ability to influence other's preferences, its core is cultural soft power-that is, culture and information's attraction, communication ability, and the powers which flow, "spread" or result from them. Cultural soft power, certainly to some extent, is not necessarily arranged in strict accordance with military and economic strength; culture can flow or "spread" to cross borders.

This makes the spreading of culture the main way of building the country's image and strength. As suggested in the report on our 17th Party Congress, "In the present era, culture is increasingly becoming an important source of national cohesion and creativity, and an increasingly important factor in the competition in overall national strength." And it specifically set it as an important cultural development strategy in order to "stimulate the cultural creativity of the whole nation, improve the country's cultural soft power."

American scholars generally believe that if a country's culture is qualified in the value of shared values based on the voluntary recognition in consciousness, then it can be a "resonance" in the world culture and play a part in the performance of power regulation. To form the incommensurability and dialogicality between a country's culture and other civilizations, we must strengthen the ability to transform cultural homogenization, the effective integration of culture and redevelopment activity; that is to say, we must strengthen the ability to communicate culture effectively.

Currently, with the background of globalization, the pattern of national culture has transformed from the "regional space" into a "world culture." Meanwhile, cultural identity definition and the experience of space and time are bound to be re-structured and mutative. At the same time, the perceived way of life becomes a multiplicity of sounds from a single sound, which makes the cultural global spread effectively the essential way to enhance cultural soft power. We should keep pace with "world standards" while not ignoring its ideology, and we should accept the "multi-context" while keeping national cultural purity. Only in this way can the identity of culture continue to play a role in the performance of soft power.

2. CULTURAL SOFT POWER AND THE DISLOCATION OF COMMUNICATION

On January 17, 2011, an eye-catching national image of China played constantly on outdoor big screens in New York's Times Square in Manhattan. In addition, a promotional national image of China's "People Chapter," which was condensed into thirty seconds, was also broadcast by the U.S. Cable TV News Network (CNN) worldwide on all channels. This was the first official, high-profile launch of a Chinese attitude in a major public relations campaign; it also indicates that China's national image transmission is entering a new period of development--the image of countries and citizens.

Currently, the opinions and principles that Chinese Confucian culture advocated, such as "harmony but not sameness," the "policy of benevolence," "the doctrine of the mean," "human and nature harmonious developing" and other ideas as well as Chinese martial arts, calligraphy, paintings, traditional clothing (mainly "Cheong-sam"), Peking Opera, Traditional Chinese Medicine, etc. …

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