Friday, April 19, 2019

Communist China’s Cultural Invasion of the World — Part III

— Part III: Strategic Implementation —
{Editor’s Notes: The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has adopted and, for many years, has carried out its strategy of “Culture Going Global.” The following is a report that Chinascope has created focusing on that strategy, on related government policies, and on the implementation of the CCP’s efforts.
The report will be published in three parts:
The full document can be downloaded here.}

IV. The Strategic Implementation of “Culture Going Global”
Beijing has mobilized many resources, from state powers to private culture enterprises, to implement the “Culture Going Global” strategy.

A. Progress
The actual statistical numbers on Beijing’s “Culture Going Global” implementation may not be readily available. However, we can still gain an understanding of how grandiose and comprehensiveness its effort has been.
David Shambaugh, in his article in Foreign Affairs, “China’s Soft-Power Push,” stated, “China’s diplomatic and development schemes form just one part of a much broader agenda aimed at enhancing its soft power in media, publishing, education, the arts, sports, and other domains. Nobody knows for sure how much China spends on these activities, but analysts estimate that the annual budget for ‘external propaganda’ runs in the neighborhood of $10 billion annually. By contrast, the U.S. Department of State spent $666 million on public diplomacy [JB emphasis] in fiscal year 2014.” {1}
One of China’s strategies is to place a heavy emphasis on overseas investment in cultural and entertainment industries. According to the American Enterprise Institute’s (AEI’s) “China Global Investment Tracker,” in a seven-year period between 2005 and 2011, China’s overseas investment in the entertainment industry was $1.22 billion. In the following seven-year period between 2012 and 2018, that number increased 40 times to $47.77 billion. {2}
According to the “2017 China Performance Market Annual Report,” overseas performances by Chinese performance troupes generated 2.97 billion yuan (US $450 million) in 2017. {3} In 2009, those proceeds were only 77.8 million yuan. {4}
Two of the frequently mentioned “Culture Going Global” instruments in Beijing’s official documents are building China Cultural Centers and Confucius Institutes overseas. By the end of 2017, Beijing had built 35 China Cultural Centers on 5 continents, including the cities of Dar es Salaam (a coastal city in Tanzania), Cairo, Paris, Berlin, Tokyo, and Tel Aviv. {5} Its goal is to build 50 centers by 2020. {6}
By end of year 2018, Beijing had established 548 Confucius Institutes and 1,193 Confucius Classrooms in 154 countries and regions on six continents. {7} Office of Chinese Language Council International (Hanban) aims to establish 1,000 Confucius Institutes by 2020. {8}
“China has become the world’s number one in book publications, television program productions and broadcasts, and movie screens.” {9} China had 55,623 movie screens by the first half of 2018. {10} It is 36 percent more than the 40,837 that the U.S. had by end of 2018. {11}
In addition, The Heritage Foundation reported that “China is taking control of Hollywood.” China’s large movie market and its financing of films and buying theater chains in the U.S. has given it huge leverage to tell Hollywood what to make and what to say. “It’s not just censorship of Hollywood movies that are shown in the Chinese mainland. It’s the censorship of Hollywood movies that are shown to American audiences.” “U.S. scriptwriters and producers are beginning to even preempt the censorship boards in China, and they’re starting to write films that they know will be able to pass the test of China.” {12}

B. Characteristics
Beijing’s “Culture Going Global” strategy exhibits a few characteristics.
First, it is a holistic movement throughout the whole nation. From the National Ballet of China to the few jugglers and acrobats at the Busch Gardens theme park, groups big or small, state-owned or privately owned, all are keen on performing overseas. This is due to the CCP’s powerful mobilization capability – once it sets a strategy and commits itself to it, it is able to mobilize cultural companies and performers to go along with it. Also, being able to perform overseas boosts the performer’s credentials and therefore many companies or people are willing to perform for little proceeds or even pay out of their own pockets for the opportunity.
Second, the primary goal of this strategy is not to make money. Beijing puts this strategy at the political level and national security level. It has fully committed itself to this strategy and has the whole nation’s gross domestic product as its backing.
Xi Jinping stated at the CCP’s 19th National Congress in 2017, “We have made all-around efforts in the pursuit of major country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics, thus advancing China’s diplomatic agenda in a comprehensive, multilevel, multifaceted way and creating a favorable external environment for China’s development.” “We must promote the creative evolution and development of fine traditional Chinese culture, make sure our revolutionary culture remains alive and strong, and develop an advanced socialist culture… We should do more to foster a Chinese spirit, Chinese values, and Chinese strength to provide a source of cultural and moral guidance for our people.” {13}
Beijing has provided a lot of financial support and incentives for cultural companies to go abroad, including government funds, tax relief, government subsidies, and significant personal recognition and gratuities. But even if there were no financial benefits, many enterprises in China would still do it. That is because Chinese companies are required to be in line with the party’s position and help out on national security work. In many cases, they volunteer to “tell the China story” to the world because they can be rewarded one way or the other at a later time, or they may have already received many “helps” from the government and it is the time for them to pay back what they have received.
Therefore, Wanda Group (also known as Dalian Wanda), whose success in real estate was inseparable from government support, bought AMC Theaters in the U.S.; Ma Yun, whose success with Alibaba also required government blessings, bought South China Morning Post in Hong Kong; DMG, whose founder Xiao Wenge is the son of a People’s Liberation Army general, bought Eastern Television in Taiwan. {14}
Third, “Culture Going Global” is “China’s Position in International Expression” (trying to tell the “China story” in a way that the local people will understand.) {15} To package the message for easy acceptance, China Central Television (CCTV) hires many Western news reporters and anchors. Chinese companies also talked about “bringing in” first, for better “going global” later. For example, the Beiao Group, a large cultural/performing arts/sports company, worked with the National Theatre of China to bring in the popular British performance War Horse to create a version in the Chinese language. It thus learned a lot about script adaptation, stage design, actor training, marketing, and business operations. Beiao also worked with a French group to jointly develop a show Le fil Rouge and toured France. {16}

C. Strategic Approaches
The CCP drives the overall “Culture Going Global” strategy. The government plays a vital role in the funding and implementation of this strategy, way beyond what the U.S. or other Western countries can do or imagine.
The government’s involvement includes, but is not limited to, the following means:
1. Providing government funding support and subsidies
  • In August 2010, the GAPP and the Export-Import Bank of China signed the “Cooperation Agreement to Support Key Enterprises and Projects in Culture Exports.” During the five-year cooperation period, the Export-Import Bank of China planned to provide no less than 20 billion yuan RMB or equivalent foreign currency (US$3 billion) to the key enterprises and projects to explore the international market. {17}
  • The Bank of China and the ICBC also signed similar agreements around the same time.
  • China’s domestic performing arts market was 46.9 billion yuan (US$7 billion). The government subsidized a quarter of it, or 12.0 billion yuan. The government also offered additional special benefits to farmers. {18}
2. Conducting intergovernmental cultural exchanges
Beijing arranges many art group visits, cultural year events, art festivals, antique exhibitions, and large-scale themed performances with other countries.
  • The Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council started the “Cultures of China, Festivals of Spring(四海同春)” performance program in 2009. It sends performance troupes overseas during the Chinese New Year period. By 2018, it had sent 69 performance troupes to 144 countries in five continents. {19}
  • The All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese started organizing the “Embrace China (亲情中华)” culture exchanges in 2008. Its performance troupes have toured the world with more than 900 shows in ten years. It also organized other events such as art exhibitions, speech contests, writing contests, and tours in China, under the “Embrace China” theme. {20}
  • There are many culture exchanges. For example, Beijing and Monaco had a relics exhibition exchange in 2017 and 2018. Monaco held the (China’s) Forbidden City Cultural Relics Exhibition and China held the Monaco Grimaldi Dynasty Relics Exhibition. In 2018, Chengdu City of Sichuan Province held the Pompeii Relics Exhibition and Naples, Italy held the Old Sichuan Civilization Exhibit. {21}
3. Establishing leagues on cultural products and services exchanges
In the past five years, Beijing has formed the following eight international level leagues under the BRI name to exchange culture products and services:
  • The Silk Road International League of Theaters (SRILT, 丝绸之路国际剧院联盟): Founded in Beijing in October 2016; it has 107 member units from 2 international organizations and 37 countries and regions around the world.
  • The Silk Road International Alliance of Satellite Television (丝绸之路国际卫视联盟): Founded in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province in June 2017. {22}
  • The Belt and Road Media Community (BRMC, 丝路电视国际合作共同体): It has 75 member units. {23}
  • The Silk Road International Library Alliance (丝绸之路国际图书馆联盟): Founded in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, with 24 member libraries in May 2018. {24}
  • The International Alliance of Museums of The Silk Road (丝绸之路国际博物院联盟): Founded in May 2017; it has 158 member units, including 47 international organizations and 111 domestic organizations. {25}
  • The Silk Road International Alliance of Art Museums and Galleries (丝绸之路国际美术馆联盟): Founded in Beijing, with art galleries and key art institutions in 18 countries and regions, in June 2018. {26}
  • The Network of Silk Road Art Festivals (丝绸之路国际艺术节联盟): Founded in Shanghai in October 2017. {27}
  • The University Alliance of the Silk Road (丝绸之路大学联盟): Founded in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province in May 2015; it has 150 university members from 38 countries and regions. {28}
4. Chinese Embassies and Consulates’ Promotions
Chinese Embassies and Consulates actively support and sometimes organize performances and cultural exchange programs in the countries where they reside.
  • The Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Finance jointly issued the “Guiding Opinions on Promoting the Development of the Cultural Industry with Unique Cultural Product” in 2014, stating the purpose to “fully leverage the cultural offices (groups) of Chinese embassies and consulates and overseas China Cultural Centers, to assist cultural enterprises in understanding and analyzing the overseas cultural markets and expand overseas marketing networks and channels.” {29}
  • In 2018, officials from China’s Consulate in San Francisco attended and made speeches at over 20 opening night performances of performing troupes from China.
  • Lu Fan, China’s Ambassador to Spain, admitted that he had personally pressured the Royal Theater in Madrid into cancelling a performance that Shen Yun Performing Arts had booked there in January 2019. Shen Yun is an independent performance group based in the U.S. Its performances include classic Chinese dances and stories about religious cultivation that the CCP has banned in China. Reminding the Spanish theater that it had become a member of the Silk Road International League of Theaters and luring it with the promise of China’s great market potential, Lu convinced the theater to “consider the politics.” {30}
5. Expanding giant state-owned media enterprises overseas
Unlike the Western countries, Beijing has many state-owned media enterprises. These media companies have played an aggressive role in expanding and spreading China’s voice to the world.
In 2102, Chinascope did an in-depth report on the CCP’s cultural expansion: {31}
  • China Central Television (CCTV, 中央电视台) began its global expansion by starting with the Asia Pacific countries in 1992, and then expanded to the Europe in 1996, to Africa in 1997, and to the U.S. in 1998. It launched “CCTV America” from its studio in Washington, DC in 2012.
  • China Radio International (CRI, 中国国际广播电台) started its Chinese broadcasting in the greater New York metropolitan area in 2009.
  • English China Daily published China Daily, US edition in 2009.
  • The Xinhua News Network Corporation (CNC, 新华网络电视) was founded in 2010 and launched its English channel in the same year. It attempted to build a news network rivaling CNN or BBC.
  • Xinhua News Agency’s ads have been displayed at Times Square since 2011.
Today, China’s media expansion is getting deeper and wider:
  • Beijing launched China Global Television Network (CGTN, 中国环球电视网), under CCTV, on December 31, 2016, as a multi-language and multi-platform media organization, operating on television and online. “Headquartered in Beijing, CGTN has an international team of professionals based around the world with production centers located in Nairobi, Washington D.C., and London.” “CGTN’s six TV channels – English, Spanish, French, Arabic, Russian, and Documentary – are available in more than 170 countries and regions worldwide.” “CGTN Digital is accessible via CGTN.comCGTN mobile applications, YouTubeFacebookTwitterWeibo and other social media platforms, with over 150 million followers across the globe.” {32} In February 2019, the U.S. made CGTN register itself as a “foreign agent” in the U.S.
  • On March 21, 2018, Beijing created another media super giant China Media Group (CMG, called “中央广播电视总台” in Chinese), by combining CCTVCRIChina National Radio (CNR, 中央人民广播电台), and CGTN. According to a CGTN report, CMG “will be under the (CCP Central Committee’s) Publicity Department.” “(It is) tasked with better telling the country’s stories to the world” and “also spreading the Party’s guiding principles and policies.” {33} CMG programs are called Voice of China (中国之声) in general.
  • The China Arts and Entertainment Group Ltd. (CAEG, 中国对外文化集团有限公司) was founded in April 2004, by combining the China Performing Arts Agency (CPAA) and China International Exhibition Agency (CIEA) which were established in 1957 and 1950, respectively. It is “China’s only central state-owned cultural enterprise that has a performance and exhibition business worldwide.” It is “the largest importer of international performances and exhibitions in China and the world’s largest exporter of Chinese performances and exhibitions.” “CAEG stages on average over 4,000 different kinds of performances, exhibitions and other cultural activities in over 200 cities in dozens of countries and regions, attracting over 10 million attendees every year.” It is “under the guidance of ‘starting from China and going global.’” {34}
6. Encouraging culture companies to invest overseas
Beijing pushes Chinese companies in the entertainment and cultural industries to invest overseas. Though most of these investments and acquisitions are done by individual companies, as we have explained earlier, it is impossible to claim that these actions are pure company decisions and are totally free from Beijing’s influence.
  • According to AEI’s “China Global Investment Tracker,” China’s overseas investment in entertainment industry went through three phases: From 2007 to 2011, the total annual investment was less than $500 million. From 2012 to 2016, it jumped to $2-3 billion a year. The number further hiked to over $7 billion in 2017 and 2018. {35}
  • Since 2012, Wanda Group has spent nearly $10 billion to acquire Legendary Entertainment, AMC, Carmike Cinemas, and Dick Clark Productions, producer of the Golden Globe Awards, and other firms. It became the largest chain cinema worldwide. Those acquisitions are backed by Beijing. “According to incomplete statistics, Wanda had borrowed at least $10 billion from 2012 to 2016, mostly from Chinese banks.” {36} Ironically, however mighty the Wanda Group was (its Chairman Wang Jianlin had held the titles of the richest man in China and the richest Chinese in the world), it went south right away after Beijing disliked it. In 2017 and 2018, Wanda was forced to sell much of its real estate business, which was its core business, to other Chinese companies at cheap prices. {37} This shows that it is the government not the business itself or the market that determines the success or failure of a private business in China.
As we can see, the CCP is carrying on a cultural invasion around the world. Each government and all the world’s people need to wake up before China’s slow and steady infiltration leads us all to become vassals of communism.

{1} Foreign Affairs, “China’s Soft-Power Push,” July/August 2015 Edition.
{2} AEI, “China Global Investment Tracker.”
{3} Morning Post, “2017 China Performance Market Annual Report,” September 11, 2018.
{4} The Number One Economics Daily, “Wiener Musikverein Became Money Hall; Who Is Paying?” July 11, 2014.
{5} The China Cultural Center website, “The China Cultural Center Introduction,” February 10, 2015.
{6} CNTV, “The Overseas China Cultural Center,” August 4, 2014.
{7} The Hanban website, “About Confucius Institute/Classrooms.”
{8} The Diplomat, “China’s Confucius Institutes and the Soft War,” July 8, 2015.
{9} The Beijing Front website, “Make China Image Shinier,” April 4, 2018.
{10} The Qianzhan website, “Analysis of China Current Movie Theater and Market,” November 6, 2018.
{11} The National Association of Theatre Owners website, “Number of U.S. Movie Screens.”
{12} The Heritage Foundation, “How China Is Taking Control of Hollywood.”
{13} Xinhua, “Secure a Decisive Victory in Building a Moderately Prosperous Society in All Respects and Strive for the Great Success of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era,” October 18, 2017.’s_report_at_19th_CPC_National_Congress.pdf.
{14} BBC, “U.S. DMG Bought Eighty Percent of Eastern Television’s Share,” December 11, 2015.
{15} Qiushi, “Create Academic Language with China’s Characteristics, China’s Flavor, and China’s Style,” June 11, 2012.
{16} The Beiao website, “The Beiao Group: ‘Bringing In’ Is for Better ‘Going Global,’” March 20, 2015.
{17} The China Government website, “The GAPP and the China Export-Import Bank Signed Strategic Cooperation Agreement,” August 26, 2010.
{18} The cg2577 website, “2016 China Performing Arts Annual Report: Total Market Reached 46.9 billion Yuan,” June 13, 2017.
{19} People’s Daily, “Cultures of China, Festivals of Spring Started,” February 7, 2018.
{20} People’s Daily, “Major Embrace China Themed Events.”
{21} Xinhua, “Sino-Europe Civilization Exchange,” March 21, 2019.
{22} People’s Daily, “Silk Road International Alliance of Satellite TV Was Founded,” June 5, 2017.
{23} The website, “Community Member Institutes.”
{24} The China News website, “Silk Road International Library Alliance Was Founded in Sichuan,” May 28, 2018.
{25} The International Alliance of Museums of The Silk Road website, “(The International Alliance of Museums of The Silk Road) Alliance Overview.”
{26} Xinhua, “The Silk Road International Alliance of Art Museums and Galleries Was Founded in Beijing,” June 19, 2018.
{27} Xinhua, “The Network of Silk Road Art Festivals Was Founded,” October 23, 2017.
{28} The Xi’an Jiao Tong University website, “The University Alliance of the Silk Road.”
{29} The Ministry of Finance website, “Guiding Opinions on Promoting the Development the Cultural Industry with Unique Cultural Product,” August 8, 2014.
{30} Chinascope, “Chinese Ambassador Admitted Personal Involvement in Cancelling Shen Yun Performance,” January 30, 2019.
{31} Chinascope, “Communism’s Cultural Expansion: Communist Control Goes Abroad,” May 8, 2012.
{32} CGTN, “ABOUT US – China Global Television Network.”
{33} CGTN, “China to Merge State Media Broadcasting Giants,” March 21, 2018.
{34} The CAEG website, “(The CAEG) Profile,” March 17, 2019.
{35} AEI, “China Global Investment Tracker.”
{36} The Epoch Times, China’s Growing Influence on Hollywood, October 15,2018.
{37} VOA, “He Qinglian: Why Wang Jianlin’s Protection Shield Stops Working?” July 24, 2017.

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