Screening China's Soft Power: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Screening China's Soft Power

1st Edition

Edited by Paola Voci, Luo Hui


266 pages

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pub: 2017-09-29
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Promoting China's cultural soft power by disseminating modern Chinese values is one of the policies of President Xi Jinping. Although, it 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, the concept of "the Chinese dream," intended to rival and perhaps appeal more strongly than "the American dream," 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"

"A well-produced anthology that not only enables our deeper understanding of Chinese soft power but also asks us to rethink soft power itself. It deserves to be widely read and will make an excellent core text for classroom use." - Chris Berry, King's College, London in Pcific Affairs

Table of Contents

  1. Screening China’s Soft Power: Screen Cultures and Discourses of Power
  2. Part I What’s SAPPRFT got to do with it: the limitations, or failure, of Chinese soft power

  3. Projecting Influence: Film and the Limits of Beijing’s Soft Power, Paul Clark
  4. Soft Power in the Living Room: A Survey of Television Drama in CCTV's Foreign Language Channels, Dani Madrid-Morales
  5. Poetics of Failure: Performing Humanism in the Chinese Blockbuster, Victor Fan
  6. Going to Hollywood with Non-Han Films: A Potential Soft-Power Synergy? Vanessa Frangville
  7. UpClose, Broadcasting the Chinese Dream: CCTV News and China’s Cultural Policy Presented to a Global Audience, Viola Sarnelli
  8. Part II From east-west to south-south: localising soft power

  9. Non-State Agents, Quotidian Soft Power, and the Work of the Overseas Film Festival: Case Studies from London, Luke Robinson
  10. Towards A "Chinese Cinema" in New Zealand: Transnational Cinema as Localized Soft Power, Luo Hui
  11. CCTV Africa in an Expanding Mediasphere: Chinese Soft Power and a South-South Connectivity out of Kenya, Keith B. Wagner
  12. Part III Auteurs, animateurs, and matchmakers: pluralising Chinese soft power

  13. Animating Virtual Soft Power: Digital Animation's Dreams, Nightmares, and Wonders, Paola Voci
  14. Soft Power by Accident or by Design: If You Are the One and Chinese Television, Wanning Sun
  15. Jia Zhangke’s Mountains May Depart (2015) and the China Dream, or, How Chinese Art Cinema Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Chinese Soft Power, Elena Pollacchi
  16. The Feminine Touch: Chinese Soft Power Politics and Hong Kong Women Filmmakers, Gina Marchetti

Afterword: Shifting Perspectives on Soft Power and Chinese Screens, Yingjin Zhang

About the Editors

Paola Voci is an Associate Professor in the Department of Languages and Cultures at the University of Otago.

Luo Hui is a Lecturer in Chinese Studies in the School of Languages and Cultures at the Victoria University of Wellington.

About the Series

Media, Culture and Social Change in Asia

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

Editorial Board:

Gregory N. Evon, University of New South Wales
Devleena Ghosh, University of Technology, Sydney
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, Loughborough University
Adrian Vickers, University of Sydney
Jing Wang, MIT
Ying Zhu, Hong Kong Baptist University



Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / Asian American Studies