Promoting China’s cultural soft power by disseminating modern Chinese values is one of the policies of President Xi Jinping. This is usually understood as a top-down initiative, implemented willingly or unwillingly by writers, filmmakers, artists and so on, and often manifesting itself in clumsy and awkward ways, for example in the concept of “the Chinese dream”, intended to rival and perhaps appeal more strongly than “the American dream”. Yet, modern Chinese values are in fact put forward in many ways by many different cultural actors. Through analyses of film festivals, CCTV, Confucius Institutes, auteurs, blockbusters, reality TV, and online digital cultures, this book exposes the limitations of China’s officially promoted soft power in both conception and practice, and proposes a pluralistic approach to understanding Chinese soft power in local, regional, and transnational contexts. As such, the book demonstrates the limitations of existing theories of soft power, and argues that the US-derived concept of soft power can benefit from being examined from a China perspective.
"A timely intervention, this volume reestablishes China at center stage where its screen cultures challenge the Western discourse on China's deficit or failure in soft power and prove that soft power works best in unexpected, unintended ways and that social scientists have much to learn from cultural studies and humanities scholars whose research demonstrates values of plurality, heterogeneity, and unpredictability. A must-read for people interested in China studies, film and television studies, as well as communication and media studies." - Yingjin Zhang, Distinguished Professor of Chinese Studies and Chair of the Department of Literature at University at California, San Diego
A compelling collection, the book is a must read for scholars interested in an ongoing debate concerning the complex relationship between global Chinese media and the propagation of Chinese culture, state and grassroots, top-down or bottom up. Ying Zhu, author of "Two Billion Eyes: The Story of China Central Television"
Part I What’s SAPPRFT got to do with it: the limitations, or failure, of Chinese soft power
Part II From east-west to south-south: localising soft power
Part III Auteurs, animateurs, and matchmakers: pluralising Chinese soft power
Afterword: Shifting Perspectives on Soft Power and Chinese Screens, Yingjin Zhang
The aim of this series is to publish original, high-quality work by both new and established scholars in the West and the East, on all aspects of media, culture and social change in Asia. New proposals are welcome, and should be sent in the first instance to the series editor, Stephanie Donald, at Stephanie@stephaniedonald.info.
Gregory N. Evon, University of New South Wales
Devleena Ghosh, University of Technology, Sydney
Peter Horsfield, RMIT University, Melbourne
Michael Keane, Curtin University
Tania Lewis, RMIT University, Melbourne
Vera Mackie, University of Wollongong
Kama Maclean, University of New South Wales
Laikwan Pang, Chinese University of Hong Kong
Gary Rawnsley, Aberystwyth University
Ming-yeh Rawnsley, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
Jo Tacchi, Lancaster University
Adrian Vickers, University of Sydney
Jing Wang, MIT
Ying Zhu, City University of New York