– The Telegraph reports in alarmist fashion about Hu Jintao warning, as the newspaper headline puts it, of “cultural warfare from the West”
– A closer examination of the story indicates that Hu Jintao’s “battle cry,” above, was a speech given on October 18, 2011, that was republished yesterday in the preemminent journal for CCP theory, Qiushi (Seeking Truth / 求是).
In fact most of the speech is not at all about the West, but the need for more powerful socialist culture. However, the key detonating sentences in this long and rather boring speech are, after a discourse on China’s rising soft power, as follows:
同时，我们必须清醒地看到，国际敌对势力正在加紧对我国实施西化、分化战略图谋，思想文化领域是他们进行长期渗透的重点领域。我们要深刻认识意识形态领域斗争的严重性和复杂性，警钟长鸣、警惕长存，采取有力措施加以防范和应对. At the same time [that we develop our cultural industries and gain international advantage thereby], we must see with utmost clarity that hostile international forces are currently stepping up the implementation of Westernization in China, attempting to do so via in a variety of strategies; their long-term focus is on infiltration [渗透/shentou] in the ideological and cultural fields. We should thoroughly understand the seriousness and complexity of this ideological struggle, remaining vigilant (lit. “always keep the bell ringing“), ever alert, and taking effective measures to prevent and respond to [the challenge of cultural infiltration].
The full text of the article is available in rough English via Google Translate here.
– My own evidentiary contribution to the discourse on Hu Jintao’s retrograde and conservative tendencies with regard his extensive work in “socialist culture” are described in this essay about some materials I found about Hu Jintao in East German archives in 2009.
– As usual, with reference to cultural diplomacy and the soft power discourse, JustRecently is already well ahead of the curve. His website has the most extensive open-source translation available of the Party’s “cultural document”, a document which stemmed out of the same meetings at which Hu Jintao weighed in above.
– In reading headlines about Hu Jintao’s fear of Western “infiltration,” I think it’s important to note that there are far more nuanced Chinese examinations of soft power out there. PRC scholar He Zengke published a rather wide-ranging article this past December 23 in a reformist journal surveying French and German modes of exerting soft power, noting:
France was one of the first countries to understand the role of cultural soft power. Napoleon once said that a pen was equal to 1,000 Mauser rifles*), and a former French minister of culture said that culture and the economy are one and the same battleground. French people believe that a cultural mission can take the place of a country’s military power. In 1883, France established the Alliance Française to promote French culture. Starting in 1959, France began to define the “First Five-Year Plan for the Expansion of French Cultural Activities”, and afterwards, 25- and 35-year plans etc. were gradually developed. From the total amounts spent and per capita, France belongs to the first-ranking countries worldwide. From that, it can be seen that France attaches great importance to the development and use of soft power.
法国是最早懂得文化软实力的地位和作用的国家之一。拿破仑曾经说过，一支笔等于1000支毛瑟枪。法国前文化部长曾经说过：文化和经济是同一场战斗。 法国人认为，文化使命可以代替国家武力。1883年法国就建立了法语联盟，在世界各地讲授法语，推广法国文化。从1959年起，法国开始制定“关于 在国外扩张和恢复法国文化活动的第一个五年计划”（1959－1963），后来又陆续制定了“二五”、“三五”计划等。法国的国际文化交流支出从总数和人 均来看都居于世界第一的位置。由此可见法国对发展和运用文化软实力的高度重视。[Translation here by JustRecently]
He’s essay reminds us again:
-For all the huffing and puffing about Confucius Institutes, the “hanban” is still behind such institutions as the Alliance Française when it comes to enrollments and influence globally, a fact which I reported in July 2010 (from a cafe in Seoul, awash in K-pop, WiFi signals, kimchee and bubble tea) via a translation of a Huanqiu Shibao interview with the Hanban head.
– Finally, the magazine Monocle (which I fittingly tend to read in international airports; this one was in Tokyo) recently did some comprehensive “soft power ratings” in which the US was #1 but France not far behind. China, by the way, was #17.