January 27,2010

China and US Soft Power Play: Internet, Games, and Media

By CSC staff, Shanghai

The Google affair, which has taken on life as a diplomatic issue between China

and the United States, is a reflection that the conflicts and competition between China and the US and the West over cultural, as well as trade and legal aspects, are reaching new heights.


China is implementing a strategy to promote its cultural "soft power," aimed at protecting domestic cultural industries and restricting western media entry of on the one hand, and going abroad to acquire media outlets on the other. 


The government has spent hundreds of billions of yuan on Internet security, mostly on efforts to closely monitor information that passes across the net. Once any problem is found, the flow of information can be immediately controlled and the source of information can be tracked down.


The recent hot release of the American mega-film Avatar has deeply disturbed the authorities. In some cities, the staging and publicity of the film has been subject to restrictions, ostensibly on the grounds that it affects the release of domestic films, but its "cultural infiltration" aspects may loom even higher. Another US film that has been a big box office draw in China, 2012, also has nationalists suspecting American conspiracy. The Chinese-made ark in the film is said to give the impression that China has become a superpower, and is therefore becoming a threat to the global order.


China makes no bones over its desire to prevent the "infiltration" of western culture in its cultural and entertainment industries. Shun Shoushan, the director of the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP), last year delivered a speech at the annual meeting of game industry, noting that while the government encourages and supports the accelerated development of the domestic original online game industry, it will also strictly check the content and of technology services of import games, and regulate their total quantity, structure and layout.


Beijing requires the gaming industry to be committed to China's national cultural heritage. On-line games designers must step away from the limitations of the game industry and examine their own roles and responsibilities, standing on the cultural platform for China and the world.


GAPP's overseas promotional programs in the traditional publishing field have made strides. With the rapid development of China's online game industry, more and more Chinese game companies and online gaming products have entered overseas markets. This year, GAPP will promote overseas programs for domestic original online games. Joining the National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Commerce, State Administration of Taxation, and other departments, GAPP will implement policies more conducive to the development of internet game industry, continue to intensify support, and actively guide qualified enterprises to speed up the pace of overseas promotion.


Zhu Hong, spokesperson of the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT), noted at the recent national work conference on radio and television that SARFT will continue to implement the planning of central authorities to enhance international communication and build world-class media, adhere to the combination of diplomacy, propaganda, and foreign aid, vigorously implement its radio and television "going abroad" program, and continue to enhance international influence and competitiveness.

Zhu says China's main state-controlled media companies are actively exploring the formation of market-oriented companies, and operating in overseas shares, mergers and acquisitions or investment in a number of radio and television enterprises and intermediary organizations.


"We will actively encourage and support qualified large and medium state-owned enterprises, private and other social capital to invest in overseas media market, making them important forces for the 'going abroad' of radio and television."

Zhu Hong says China should make use of high technology to achieve new progress, particularly in taking advantage of the Internet, which is important to break the Western monopoly and enhance capacity of the international spread. National network television should strengthen the establishment of global video distribution and increase overseas mirror sites.


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