Archive for January 1st, 2012

Sunday, January 1, 2012

“Soft Power”: Comparing China and Europe

The following are perceptions of European “soft-power” policy concepts as reviewed by He Zengke (何增科), a Chinese researcher in an official academic function, in an article published by ChinaReform (中国改革论坛网), on December 23, i. e. last month. The paragraphs from his article translated or described here are focusing on France and Germany, plus some European interaction with UN bodies like UNESCO. He’s  emphasis is on cultural soft power.

Saarlaendischer Rundfunk, Europawelle Saar (SR-1), QSL, 1980s

Saarländischer Rundfunk, Europawelle Saar (SR-1), QSL, 1980s, featuring the Heusweiler medium wave transmitter of 1936. Click photo for a history of the Heusweiler transmission site.

Some of He Zengke’s views on America‘s “soft-power” policies or public diplomacy can be found in this previous post/translation.

Different from  that previous post’s arrangement, I’ve put He’s footnotes [in square brackets] to the end of this post, rather than within the translations. There’s only one note of my own in this post, following He Zengke’s.

Main link:

Links within blockquotes added during translation.

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.[9] 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.[10] 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。[9]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。[10]由此可见法国对发展和运用文化软实力的高度重视。


The state in America is described as a facilitator for cultural management, who mainly takes the role of creating favorable conditions (by tax relief or exemptions, for example), and somewhat similarly, He sees Britain as an indirect-support or state-sponsorship model, or sponsorship at arm’s length (以“一臂间距”的方式 – the government [and parliament] pass the budgets, but expert artists, by anonymous review, make the individual decisions, and box office incomes, private donations and the Arts Council England are major funding sources). France belongs to a third category, in He’s view:

France represents the direct-sponsorship model. The state finances culture through the ministry of culture, the funding decisions are made by government officials, and an artist’s position is decided by direct government funding. As artists’ decisions are respected, the official artistic community enjoys a certain degree of autonomy all the same. [25]

以法国为代表的“直接主办型”。国家通过文化部资助文 化艺术,资助决定由政府官员作出,艺术家的经济地位由政府的直接资助决定。由于尊重艺术家的决定,官方的艺术团体仍享有一定程度的自治。[25]

To complete the menu, He adds a fourth type or model, represented by the former Soviet Union:

All cultural and artistic institutions are owned and run by the state, the political leaders make the funding decisions, and the state only funds cultural product which correspond to the political standards, but doesn’t support the creative process itself.[25]

以前苏联为 代表的“直接操作型”。文化艺术机构全部由国家所有和国家经营,资助决定由政治领导人作出,政府只支持那些符合政治标准的文化艺术产品,而不是支持创造性 过程本身。[25]

In the wake of – or the run-up to – the Commission on Global Governance‘s “Our Global Neighborhood” report and the UNESCO’s “Our Creative Diversity” report in 1995 and 1996, the Council of Europe authored (or commissioned) a report titled “In From the Margins” (从边缘到中心) which emphasized that if culture was ignored, sustainable development would not be possible.

He Zengke’s description of these international processes seems to be correct, at least according to the European Institute for Comparative Cultural Research (take a look at the organizers listed at the beginning):

The themes discussed during the [North South] Conference [in September 1999] on Cultural Research and Development were identified in the Action Plan adopted by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Conference on Cultural Policies for Development in Stockholm, 1998, itself inspired by reports like Our Creative Diversity of the UN/UNESCO World Commission on Culture and Development, to which a Council of Europe Task Force contributed the Report In From the Margins, 1997.

“Creative Europe” (2002) was another step in the process, also mentioned by He.

The “Creative Europe” report, published in 2002, proposed a comprehensive definition of cultural governance, and determined the direction into which public offices [or organizations – 公共部门] , private organizations and volunteering and non-profit organizations should cooperate to promote cultural development. Cultural autonomy, decentralization (分权化), encouragement of creativity, and the turning of broader participation into a part within the cultural governance concept, were to guide the direction of the cultural system’s reform.[26]

2002发表的《创造性的欧洲》的报告为文化治理提出了一个全面的定 义,后者指的是为文化发展确定方向的公共部门、私营机构和自愿∕非赢利性机构相互合作共同推动文化发展。文化自治、分权化、鼓励文化创造性、更大范围的参 与成为文化治理理念所倡导的文化体制改革方向。[26]

He Zengke seems to read the collapse of the USSR and its eastern and central European satellite regimes (that’s obviously not how he refers to them) as the starting point of the global cultural designing process he describes, and he views decentralization and public funding at arm’s length as defining marks of developed countries’ cultural policies. He names Canada, Australia, Britain, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland and other countries in this context, but:

[..] it should be pointed out that Germany and France maintain a negative attitude to the “arm’s-length” principle. In Germany, cultural administrative power rests with different levels of government and departments belonging to government, and artistic boards are mainly forums, limited to protecting and supporting artists, and to provide some professional advice. And France hasn’t left any room for cultural administration by boards. The government, through its own cultural administrative departments, formulates the cultural policies, establishes cultural organizations, and makes cultural funding decisions.  National support and protection plays a major role in cultural development. [27]



France turned its cultural diplomacy into a national strategy. There are clear common goals,  and a clear division of labor between the French government and its quasi-governmental organizations.[41] France took the lead in advocating the principle of “cultural diversity”, and therefore achieved a favorable position internationally, besides America. France established many “Alliance Francaise” and other institutions in other countries, to spread the French language and culture. There are currently 1,040 Alliance-Francaise locations in 136 countries on all five continents, with 460,000 students. The way France spreads its culture and values,  in the process of spreading its language and culture and thus expands its influence on other countries is something to draw lessons from, to some extent.[42]


The way Germany shapes its image to raise its soft cultural power has commonalities with other countries, but unique aspects, too. What is unique is the way it shapes its image by historical self-examination. Germany had the dishonorable history of Nazi Germany’s launch of the Second World War and the Holocaust. After the Second World war, German governments made deep reflections on this criminal period in history and made sincere apologies. All governments in succession have insisted on facing history squarely, on reflecting the war with an attitude of profound repentance, and achieved international good will by doing so. The German population also reflected deeply on the war, thus increasing its awareness and reflection of this period. German governments turned international cultural exchange into one of the country’s three pillars of foreign policy, actively carries out foreign cultural exchanges, teaching of the German language, and public diplomacy, thus expanding its cultural influence. The “Voice of Germany” [Deutsche Welle] does its utmost to attract an audience abroad, as a provider of objective, neutral, and balanced news and commentary. Germany’s universities and foundations actively unfold initiatives to attract overseas students and visiting scholars, thus efficiently expanding Germany’s ideological and cultural influence abroad.[43]

德国在塑造国家形象提高文化软实力方面的做法与其他国家既有相同之处,又有独特之处。其独特之处在于通过反思历史重塑国家形象。德国曾有过纳粹德国发 动第二次世界大战屠杀犹太人的不光彩历史。二战后,德国政府对这段罪恶的历史进行了深刻的反省和诚挚的道歉,历届德国政府均坚持正视历史、反省战争、深刻 忏悔的态度,从而在国际上赢得了普遍的好感。德国民间也对战争进行了深刻的反思,使民众提高了对这段历史的认识和反省。德国政府将对外文化交流作为本国对 外政策的三大支柱之一,积极开展对外文化交流、德语教学和公共外交,扩大自身文化影响力。 “德语之声”尽量以客观、中立、平衡的新闻报道和评论来吸引国外听众。德国的大学和基金会在吸引留学生和访问学者、开展国际学术交流方面积极主动,有效地 扩大了德国思想文化在海外的影响力。[43]

He Zengke’s Footnotes

[9] quoting Gong Tieying (龚铁鹰), “A Systematic Analysis of Soft Power” (软权力的系统分析), Tianjin People’s Publishing House, 2008, p. 154

[10] ibid, pp. 155 to 157

[25] Zhang Xiaoming (张晓明), “Drawing on Organizational Reform and Policies Useful Experiences Abroad, Stepping up the Promotion of Our Country’s Establishment of Public Cultural System” (吸取国外体制改革和政策创新的有益经验,加快推动我国公共文化服务体系建设), recorded at the CCP’s Central Propaganda Department’s Cultural System Reform and Development Office, and the CCP’s Shenzhen Municipal Propaganda Department’s “Cultural Development Strategy Forum Reader”, volume 2 (文化发展战略论坛文集(二)) – Guangdong People’s Publishing House, 2006, pp. 139 to 141.

[26] Guo Lingfeng (郭灵凤), “EU Cultural Policies and Cultural Management”, (欧盟文化政策与文化治理), in: “European Research” (欧洲研究), No. 2, 2007, pp. 64 to 76

[27] Li He (李河),  “Developed Countries’ Contemporary Cultural Policies at a Glance” (发达国家当代文化政策一瞥), China Net (中国网) as quoted by a website which apprently no longer provides the source –

[41] Zeng Heshan (曾河山), “Looking at the Molding of the Country’s Image from Britan’s, France’s and South Korea’s Cultural Strategies” (从英法韩文化战略看国家形象的塑造), in: “The Great External Dissemination” (对外大传播), No. 2, 2007, pp. 53 to 54.

[42] Zheng Tianzhe (郑天喆), “France’s Experience in and Inspiration from the Establishment the Establishment of Soft Power”, research sub-report, 2009

[43] Lu Lu (鲁路), “Federal Germany’s Policy of Promoting Cultural Soft Power” (联邦德国促进文化软实力的政策), research sub-report, 2009



*) The Mauser arms company was established in the 1870s. Chinese history-writing may be rather focused on the Mauser, as the KMT used one of Mausers’ later models (apparently the Mauser Karabiner 98 kurz)during the 1927 Shanghai uprising (see second half of that post). It may also be that Napoleon III, for example, rather than Napoleon I, made this gun-pen comparison after his abdication, or that “Mauser” is a rather free translation by He, for French or German firearms in general.



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