Spreading Chinese culture in a smarter way

Updated: 2015-12-08 08:45

By Zhang Xiaoling, Guo Zhenzhi and Tony Hong(China Daily)

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The main cultural products the centers try to promote in other countries are performances, exhibitions, art festivals, sports competitions and other cultural-exchange activities. They also provide language programs. Although the CCCs are divisional level units affiliated to the Ministry of Culture, the way they are managed is different from the Confucius Institutes. A key element that differentiates them is the use of both official and informal resources. The CCCs make use of their close relationship with Chinese civil society, as they use actors from non-government organizations which places the tools of public diplomacy.

By marketing cultural products without "official and political" connotations with the help of activities such as Chinese New Year celebrations, the CCCs have increased the social impact of Chinese culture on other countries.

The CCCs have a wide range of social contacts; they have also established contacts with supporting institutions. Social contacts include strong links with overseas Chinese diaspora. By using these resources, the CCCs maximize the quality and quantity of cultural products that can be delivered to people in foreign countries.

But now that the CCCs are expanding at a faster pace, they need to make their financial records more transparent, in order to counter accusations. American political scientist Joseph Nye says the best public diplomacy issues spring forth from civil society. In this regard, the CCCs have an advantage over the Confucius Institutes because they have strong links with civil society.

The different, but successful, approach adopted by the CCCs indicates that "aggressive" promotion of Chinese culture overseas should be avoided as Western society values "academic freedom" and "independent education".

Zhang Xiaoling is associated with the University of Nottingham, Guo Zhenzhi with the School of Communication and Journalism, Tsinghua University, and Tony Hong with the University of Nottingham China Campus.

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