The Financial Times’s Beyond BRICs blog has an interesting post on the Chinese Communist Party’s recently stated goal of promoting Chinese cultural power abroad. Of course, the party’s goal of retaining control over the dissent has been poignantly demonstrated in the harassment of artist Ai Weiwei.
Nonetheless, fine artists have been living within a market context for much longer than many of China’s other culture industries:
China’s leaders appear to be impressed by the huge potential of China’s cultural industry, which is now worth Rmb1,100bn ($173bn) in 2010 and growing at an annual rate of 23 per cent. Even in its seemingly-innocuous non-political divisions, it demands to be taken far more seriously by the country’s rulers.
“China has two targets,” explains John Howkins, vice dean and visiting professor at the Shanghai Theatre Academy’s School of Creativity. “One is to increase its exports of media, entertainment, etc. The other is to ensure they convey a ‘Chinese’ or even a CPC message. In many cases, these are inconsistent.”
As with so many of the reforms enacted over the past three decades, China’s rulers want to encourage free-market capitalism while retaining communist control.
Professor Yuanpu Jin, director of the centre for creative industries at the People’s University of Beijing, says the government will therefore split the industry in two.
“Most of the media and publishing businesses, except those involved in news, current affairs and politics, will be pushed towards the market,” he says.
China’s Culture Power (BeyondBRICs/Financial Times)