Hard elements of soft power

By Naren Chitty
0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Daily, November 19, 2010
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The United States is not just a super power. It is also a soft-power giant. China is honing its soft power skills and building its soft power resources so that it too could be a soft-power giant.

Soft power is a resource for a state, the key ingredient of which is "magnetism". When cultures (such as Chinese culture, in all its richness and variety) or places (such as Beijing, New York and Paris) are magnetic, there will be a strong demand for cultural products made by them.

Chinese culture and Chinese cities have their own magnetism and the world is awash with Sinophiles. But China competes with other "large owners" of magnetic cultures and places such as the US and Europe to get its cultural products a share of the market.

The world is also awash with Francophiles, Anglophiles and a multitude of other "philes", which are less easy on the tongue, including Americanophiles.

Of course, countries do not need to be passive about magnetism. Places and cultures can be magnetized. The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games was a structured and concerted effort in magnetizing a place. And despite the media turbulence in the lead-up to the Olympics, the overall branding exercise was remarkable - and successful in many ways.

Cultural products and places can be marketed and marketed strategically. That is why China, looking at the soft power resource that is Hollywood, wants to examine systematically its production and distribution of films. What are the broad strategic options for China in marketing its cultural products?

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