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Posts Tagged ‘Soft Power’

Chinese Softpower: No Answer To Hollywood

Deng’s China has decided that China must give up its pre-Maoist past – and become ‘modern’. Result – China has become a huge market for Hollywood now.

China informs the world that Hollywood film Django is being released in China. Such an important event, no!  |  ‘#Django’ might get unchained in China’s theaters in May http://bit.ly/12LwGz5  |  Twitter - globaltimesnews- ‘#Django’ might get unchained ... 2013-04-26 09-06-57  |  Click for original tweet.

China informs the world that Hollywood film Django is being released in China. Such an important event, no! | ‘#Django’ might get unchained in China’s theaters in May http://bit.ly/12LwGz5 | Twitter – globaltimesnews- ‘#Django’ might get unchained … 2013-04-26 09-06-57 | Click for original tweet.

China has long wanted to lead in soft-power – a major force in global culture and arts.

However, this objective has eluded China.

Sun Yat Sen To Now

Modern China‘s pillars are all foreign – especially from the West. Communism from Europe, social media forums like Weibo is a Twitter clone. But possibly the biggest failure is in films.

India with Bollywood films has the largest number of productions and viewers. Africa has now jumped ahead of Hollywood – and China, in production numbers and viewership.

But it was not always like that.

Shaw Brothers had built, out of Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, over the last 70 years, an enviable base of Chinese film narrative. This was based on Chinese themes – Buddhism, Boxer Revolution (China’s version of India‘s 1857 War), Kung Fu, Japanese colonialism in China. These ideas appealed not just to Chinese audiences, but even global audiences.

However, Deng’s China has decided that China must give up its pre-Maoist past – and become ‘modern’.

Result – China has become a huge market for Hollywood now.

What’s Language Got To Do …

When you ‘follow’ foreign culture, you also end up losing control over your culture. Like this recent post pointed out, how Hollywood with Kung Fu Panda-II is trying to define the future of India-China relations.

Africa’s adoption of Arabic, Jewish abandonment of their language, have made these cultures into peripheral entities in the world today. In India, government subsidies to English in higher education has extended the life of a colonial imposition to much beyond pragmatic usage.

English has become a sub-religion in India like cricket.

In India …

A very remarkable effect of this in India is the effect English has on Indian minds. For instance, Arvind Kejriwal’s Party, AAM AAdmi Party (AAP) has looked to the US for every inspiration. This inspiration-by-the-US ideas are not based on study of the US – but on the propaganda by US media.

For instance corruption.

Just one scandal in the US, is bigger than all corruption cases that have ‘allegedly’ happened in the last nearly 70 years of independent India. The nearly US$8 trillion of unaccounted /partially accounted hole in the US Department of Defense.

Yet a founder of the AAP tweets on US governance. Not surprisingly, it based on ‘optics’ – but on any critical appreciation of the US.

In the meantime, back to China. China’s prime English newspaper /website, Global Times has decided to inform the world that Chinese will be able to see ‘Django Unchained.’

A major event, I presume.

Two weeks after the Hollywood film Django Unchained was pulled from theaters on the day it premiered on the Chinese mainland, rumors began to spread on the Internet that the film had passed the country’s censorship requirements again and would return to Chinese screens.

Reliable sources said that the first film from director Quentin Tarantino to come to the Chinese mainland will be available for film lovers in May, popular movie information and ticket booking website mtime.com reported Thursday.

“The former edition to be released in cinemas is almost the same as the editions released overseas, which were edited by Quentin Tarantino. That edition had few problems generally, and after the suspension, only some nude scenes were cut from the film. I suppose it will be on screens after May Day,” sina.com.cn reported.

via ‘Django’ might get unchained in China’s theaters in May – CHINA – Globaltimes.cn.

 



 

Soft Power: Dragon on the dance floor

February 1, 2012 1 comment

Why is China having difficulty with sustaining creative output. Is it just a matter of getting some government money and bureaucratic instructions?

Can all this claw sharpening make China a soft-power? |  Cartoonist - Deng Coy Miel, Singapore  on 3/29/2010 12:00:00 AM; source & courtesy - caglecartoons.com  |  Click for larger image.

Can all this claw sharpening make China a soft-power? | Cartoonist - Deng Coy Miel, Singapore on 3/29/2010 12:00:00 AM; source & courtesy - caglecartoons.com | Click for larger image.

Cultural security – they say

Recently, the Chinese President, Hu Jin Tao, lamented the lack of Chinese soft-power – and cautioned the Chinese nation of the dangers of creeping Western culture.

Sustaining creative output, with appeal across cultures, that has momentum of its own, is the holy grail that most nations want – and few have.

China and Hu Jin Tao are not alone in wanting this.

Rulers of the Wasteland

Europe has struggled with sustaining a film industry for the last 50 years. Without much success. Another interesting sidelight, for instance, is cartooning. Satire and cartoons seem like a perfect escape valve that Western societies need. With a heavy-handed State.

Western classical music has been on a ventilator for most of the last 60 years – alive only due to huge State subsidies. Unlike Indian classical music which is making a strong comeback – with token State support.

Changing tunes

This entire creative thingamajig was termed as soft-power by a Harvard professor, Joseph Nye.

On China’s soft power status, Joseph Nye now is using a ‘told-you-so’ tone. But a few years ago, Nye saw a bigger challenge to the US from China as a soft-power. Back in 2005, a worried Nye in the Wall Street Journal, reminded his readers that

a recent BBC poll of 22 countries, found that nearly half the respondents saw Beijing’s influence as positive compared to 38% who said the same for the U.S., and it is clear that the rise of China’s soft power — at America’s expense — is an issue that needs to be urgently addressed.

Success depends not only on whose army wins, but also on whose story wins.

China has always had an attractive traditional culture, but now it is entering the realm of global popular culture as well. Chinese novelist Gao Xingjian won China’s first Nobel Prize for Literature in 2000, and the Chinese film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” became the highest grossing non-English film. Yao Ming, the Chinese star of the U.S. National Basketball Association’s Houston Rockets, is rapidly becoming a household name, and China is set to host the 2008 Summer Olympics. The enrollment of foreign students in China has tripled to 110,000 from 36,000 over the past decade, and the number of foreign tourists has also increased dramatically to 17 million last year. China has created 26 Confucius Institutes around the world to teach its language and culture, and while the Voice of America was cutting its Chinese broadcasts to 14 from 19 hours a day, China Radio International was increasing its broadcasts in English to 24 hours a day.

Although China remains authoritarian, the success of its political economy in tripling gross domestic product over the past three decades has made it attractive to many developing countries. In parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America, the so-called “Beijing consensus” on authoritarian government plus a market economy has become more popular than the previously dominant “Washington consensus” of market economics with democratic government.

China is far from America’s equal in soft power, it would be foolish to ignore the gains it is making.

A few months after this article, in April 2006, Nye shared his alarm with students at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. After a wide-ranging discussion, Nye finished

by looking at polls that were taken by the BBC in January. Is China’s soft power increasing? Yes. In fact, compared to the United States, Chinese influence was rated positively in twenty out of thirtythree countries polled, whereas the United States only was rated positively in thirteen out of the thirty-three countries polled. And China’s ratings are impressive.

Can governments depend on opinions and policies that change so fast? Nye’s negative outlook on China today is far from his earlier alarm about China’s ability sustain creative output.

China has always had an attractive traditional culture, and now it has created several hundred Confucius Institutes around the world to teach its language and culture. The enrolment of foreign students in China has increased from 36,000 a decade ago to at least 240,000 in 2010, and while the Voice of America was cutting its Chinese broadcasts, China Radio International was increasing its broadcasts in English to 24 hours a day.

In 2009, Beijing announced plans to spend billions of dollars to develop global media giants to compete with Bloomberg, Time Warner and Viacom. China invested $8.9 billion in external publicity work, including a 24-hour Xinhua cable news channel designed to imitate Al Jazeera.

Beijing has also raised defences. It limits foreign films to only 20 per year, subsidises Chinese companies creating cultural products, and has restricted Chinese television shows that are imitations of western entertainment programs. But for all its efforts, China has had a limited return on its investment. A recent BBC poll shows that opinions of China’s influence are positive in much of Africa and Latin America, but predominantly negative in the US and Europe, as well as in India, Japan and South Korea. A poll taken in Asia after the Beijing Olympics found that China’s charm offensive had been ineffective. (via Dragon on the dance floor – Hindustan Times).

Easy as falling off a log

Seemingly, the creative output system seems to working on the three-civilization model that 2ndlook outlined earlier.

In line of that model, there are leaders for the three civilization units. For instance, the three leaders in film production are Bollywood (India), Nollywood (Nigeria) and Hollywood (USA).

Seemingly, there can only be one major production centre for each culture. What this implies is that Bollywood is not threatened by Hollywood or Nollywood. Instead, the contenders for crown, belong to same school as Bollywood. Like the quasi-Bollywood studios in Russia, Lahore or even Brazil’s TV novelas. Similarly, Hollywood’s challengers can be other production centres with similar value and aesthetic structures – like Japan, France, UK, etc.

For music there are fewer borders. African music easily slipped into modern Western music. Islāmic faction seem to lose music-making ability if Indian influence is filtered out. Contribution to Western music (classical and modern) by the Roma Gypsy has been ignored in modern narratives.

And like Nye says,

Success depends not only on whose army wins, but also on whose story wins.

Never mind if the ‘winning’ story is economical with truth.


China’s Soft Power Ambitions

January 13, 2012 1 comment

China’s expected rise as a global soft-power has been beset with unexpected difficulties and slower if not zero growth.

Earlier China could no wrong. Now China gets nothing right.  |  Cartoonist - Rex May; source and courtesy - toonpool.com  |  Click for larger image.

Earlier China could no wrong. Now China gets nothing right. | Cartoonist - Rex May; source and courtesy - toonpool.com | Click for larger image.

Rising power

Although Joseph Nye supposedly coined the term soft-power in the 1980s, it came into popular usage after his 2004 book, Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics.

From the time that Joseph Nye coined the term soft-power, China has been positioned, by Western media as the challenger to American (& Western) soft-power.

America has been particularly adept at using soft-power. In modern times, whether its was Jesse Owens (victim becomes spokesman of Promised Land) after 1936 Berlin Olympics, or the use of jazz and hip-hop to showcase American ‘culture.’ American multinationals serve as outposts of American media and culture.

But curiously, the more China tries to become a soft-power, the more incapable it finds itself.

Mr Hu may have been slow to adopt Mr Nye’s term openly, but soon after he took office in 2002 he began trying to make China a more attractive brand. In June 2003 a small group of senior propaganda officials and foreign-policy experts met in Beijing for the first time to discuss the importance of soft power. (via China abroad: Sun Tzu and the art of soft power | The Economist).

Cultural security – they say

Most recently, the Chinese President, Hu Jin Tao, lamented the lack of Chinese soft-power – and cautioned the Chinese nation of the dangers from Western culture.

Chinese leaders have long lamented the fact that Western expressions of popular culture and art seem to overshadow those from China. The top-grossing films in China have been “Avatar” and “Transformers 3,” and the music of Lady Gaga is as popular here as that of any Chinese pop singer. In October, at the sixth plenum of the party’s Central Committee, where Mr. Hu gave his speech, officials discussed the need for bolstering the “cultural security” of China.

At the same time, China has been making a push to increase its cultural influence abroad, or its “soft power.” The government has opened up Confucius Institutes around the world to aid foreigners in learning Chinese. The state is also lavishing money on opening operations of large state-run news organizations, including Xinhua, the state news agency, and China Central Television, in cities around the world. Officials from those organizations say they hope their version of the world events becomes as common as those from Western news organizations.

People involved in the arts here say the policy also means more government financing for Chinese companies to create cultural products, ranging from books to live musical productions. At the same time, officials have been encouraging many cultural industries to become more market driven and rely less on government subsidies.

President Hu Jintao has said China must strengthen its cultural production to defend against the West’s assault on the country’s culture and ideology, according to an essay in a Communist Party policy magazine published this week. The publication of Mr. Hu’s words signaled that a new major policy initiative announced in October would continue well into 2012.

“The overall strength of Chinese culture and its international influence is not commensurate with China’s international status,” Mr. Hu said in his essay, according to another translation.

“The international culture of the West is strong while we are weak,” he added.(via China’s Leader Pushes Back at Lady Gaga and Western Culture – NYTimes.com).

To Western media, India, seemed like an unlikely candidate as Emerging Soft-Power, has been ranked highest among emerging economies.

The index produced by the ICD ranked forty countries by these means, and found that Germany and the Netherlands came joint first, with Norway in third. The UK was fifth, the US was seventh, and India was the leading emerging economy, in tenth place.

The true essence of soft-power. How the West creates a hegemony using sports  |  Cartoonist - Jonathan Zapiro; source & courtesy - movingimages.wordpress.com  |  Click for larger source image.

The true essence of soft-power. How the West creates a hegemony using sports | Cartoonist - Jonathan Zapiro; source & courtesy - movingimages.wordpress.com | Click for larger source image.

Against the wind

Although China has been ranked the 3rd largest marketfor film exhibition, domestic Chinese films have had lukewarm reception from Chinese viewers – especially compared to Hollywood.

The  Chinese film industry, after support from the Chinese government and even after Hollywood investments, it is the unlikely Nigerian film industry that has both overtaken China and Hollywood.

While Korea, Taipei, China and even Europe struggle with keeping their film industries alive, Bollywood and the Nigerian film industry seem to having it easy. Nollywood, as Nigeria’s film industry has come to be known, is today second only to Bollywood in production volumes. Going by revenues, Nollywood slips to third place.  Is global soft-power following the 2ndlook model of culture competition – and not the model of so-called clash of civilizations.

What gives?


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