China’s Ruling Party Calls For Projecting Cultural “Soft Power”

Posted October 19th, 2011 at 2:15 am (UTC-5)
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China's Communist Party leaders are calling for measures to boost Chinese culture as a way to project “soft power” abroad and give meaning to rapid economic progress at home.

The proposal was announced Tuesday at the end of a secretive four-day meeting of the party's Central Committee. The members also agreed that the 18th national party congress — where a new generation of leaders is likely to be approved — will be held late next year.

In a communique reported by the official Xinhua news agency, the committee called for devoting more resources to cultural services, saying this would support national unity and create a sense of “cultural security.”

Some critics suggested the proposal will mean closer censorship of China's burgeoning Internet community, where government policies are being questioned with increasing boldness.

The communique said China feels an urgency to enhance its “soft power” and the international influence of its culture. At the same time, it said, government should offer the public a rich cultural life to go with an ample material life.

The recommendations come at a time when many Chinese are questioning the country's headlong pursuit of economic growth. Doubts have been raised by recent railway accidents and, most recently, an incident in which bystanders ignored a 2-year-old girl after she was run over by a van.

The communique also said a more robust cultural industry would contribute to China's economic growth. Xinhua noted that neighboring South Korea earns seven times more than China through movie exports and ten times more through exports of Internet gaming products.