China’s Rise and Global Communication: Problems and Prospects

Hu Zhengrong, Ji Deqiang

(Communication University of China, Beijing, China)

Abstract: The research will observe the latest movement launched by Chinese government in 2009. The movement is aiming to build up Chinese global communication competence and improve China’s national image, play more influential soft power over the world. Chinese government has invested into the infrastructure and related plans. But it still meets some challenges and difficulties which have been hindering China’s rise in global communication. Internally, the current regulatory structure of Chinese government, the potential conflicts among various interest groups backed by different powers, the government-led strategies behind the project and so forth have been obstacles for the movement to be efficient to produce the possible outcomes the policy-makers hope to have. Externally, the ideological contradictions between dominant western media world have exerted more clashing impacts on China’s possible trial in global communication. The values as a base for global communication of China are still unstable and unclear.

Keywords: global communication, China’s rise, “going-out” plan, soft power

The newly issued “China’s 12th Five-Year Plan” (2011-2015) highlights the importance of prospective cultural development and prosperity to this country. As it states, “China is going to actively exploit international culture marketplaces, innovate culture ‘going-out’ models, strengthen the competence and influence of Chinese culture and finally enhance the nation’s soft power” (Xinhua, 2010). In a broader sense, this is also a renewed manifesto of China’s commencement of rising in global flow of information and international communication. Of all channels to achieve those macro-purposes, media sectors have been prioritized backing by huge governmental subsidy supports. To put it more precisely, one the one hand, a few of mainstream media organizations like Xinhua News Agency, China Central Television and People’s Daily will receive billions of dollars from central government in the next few years to expand their oversea influence and meanwhile carry an organizational restructuring themselves on a “going-out” project basis. On the other hand, to raise China’s national image, Chinese government has also paid millions of dollars to design, produce and release a series of “promotional videos” in the headquarters of global media like CNN and financial capital like Times Square.

With the official announcement of culture or media “Going-out” (also called “Going-abroad”), Chinese government has mobilized various social resources to support its cultural sector aiming to improve the national image within a globalized and networked communication environment. Particularly, it is widely recognized that China should revitalize its media system “commensurate to the rising status and power of China” (David Barboza, 2009), and most importantly, envision an alternative perspective in global media coverage of looking at China in a real, unbiased and “non-confrontational” manner through which a West-dominated system of narratives could be diversified and even balanced. Chinese government believes that the existing situation that misunderstanding dominates in global media coverage on China issues will soon change through providing the real and comprehensive picture of China by itself.

Soft Power, an increasingly significant concept in the discourse of policymaking and public discussions, often using to depict a modern state’s global influence against hard power, has been considered as the defining feature of the whole above-mentioned undertakings.

1. Ambitions and Ambiguities: China’s state project of enhancing capacities in global communication

After accession to WTO in 2001, China has experienced an accelerated integration to global political-economic order under the policy of “reform and openness”, which often comes with a strong desire to express and to be known more by the outside world as a modern nation-state. The year of 2009 saw the launch of a new but unprecedented round of governmental campaign to showcase China’s stirring development on a global stage that is purposely to shape the attitudes, precisely the “stereotype”, western audiences hold on how to think about China, to be friendly. The targets governmental investment goes in consist of an array of social organizations ranging from mainstream media to high education institutions, for example, the domestic universities who are designated to find oversea partners and build Confucius Institutes abroad. Although Chinese government has shifted global communication strategies from old propaganda model to an integrated one that often featured mobilizing variant media and social forces inside and outside to work organically, focusing on the feeling of Western audiences, trying to use their languages and modes of thinking, the real effects remain to be long recognized, at least because of some internal and external complexities unchanged. Moreover, some new ambiguities have emerged in parallel with this ambitious plan. The problems for Chinese government to overcome probably decrease quantitatively, but climb up qualitatively.

(1)China‘s “going-out” project: an introduction of media sectors

According to Pierre Luther (2011), “if soft power is the ability to influence ideas and behaviors, news and its global diffusion are among soft power’s strategic components.” China’s newer state project mainly refers to the endeavor of media expansion both in the Global North and South. The key purpose is to be able to involve China’s voice in global communication, breaking up Western media monopolies and enhancing China’s presence in traditional South countries, Africa, for instance.

In 2009, three state-run media organizations were selected to be pioneers of the project, with a totally estimated government investment of $6 billion.

Backing by one third of this big money, Xinhua News Agency, the only Chinese official news agency, created its world English television network “CNC world News” on December 31 in 2009, as well as expand the amount of its oversea bureaus that will increase roughly from 100 to 186 in the near future. Here it is worth to mention that Xinhua’s long history of waiting and lobbying in pursuit of regulatory loosening on television services ends up a rising status on global television broadcasting. Interestingly, Xinhua is designed to pursue global influence while remains being kept away from domestic broadcasting systems. “As a new international TV network, CNC broadcasts to the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, North America and Africa by satellite, cable, cellphone and the Internet.” (Xinhua, 2010) With its prospective global penetration, it is also worth to recall a historic slogan in Xinhua’s long-standing history of global expansion. That is proposed by Mao Zedong in 1955. He said that “Xinhua should be able to manage the global and let China’s voice heard by the whole world” (Xinhua, 2009). Since then, Xinhua has been constructed to be a world-class news agency and to develop independency from East and West dominant players.

Considering this new wave of strive for global influence, from a perspective of commentators, what CNC tries to offer is China’s first-hand reporting and opinions on both domestic and international issues. In contrast to Western media, Xinhua is also required to continuously strengthen their arm of covering allied African countries. With a global configuration of news resources, designs that characterize Xinhua’s century expansion not only mean the more presence of China, but also a rising conglomerate comprising multiple services that will participate into global media market competition with AP, Reuters and even Al-Jazeera station.

Another case is China Central Television (CCTV). For the past years, CCTV has been expanding its multilingual news broadcasting channels in quantity. For example, on July 20 2009, the first Arabic channel of CCTV started to broadcast, which will air in 22 Arab countries and cover up to 300 million populations through home satellite systems. As of today, CCTV’s multilingual broadcasting services have formed a new international communication structure including 6 languages of Mandarin, English, French, Spanish, Arabic and Russian, as well as 8 specific TV channels. On the other hand, China’s first national television website – China Network Television (CNTV) – officially launched on December 28 2009, sponsored by CCTV. A brief quotation from its homepage shows how it will work, that is, “As a national web-based TV broadcaster, China Network Television provides users with a globalized, multilingual and multi-terminal public webcast service platform.” (CNTV, 2010) Using a “duel-platform (web-TV)”, CNTV is thus predesigned to take the responsibility of broadcasting abroad as part of China’s latest global communication project.

The last case we want to mention here is newspaper industries. First is People’s Daily Media Group, which is based on the foremost organ of China’s propaganda system, People’s Daily. One of a series of the group’s media productions, Global Times, issued the English edition on April 20, 2009 for the first time. Global Times thus becomes the second nationwide English newspaper in China. The first nationwide circulated English-language newspaper, China Daily, launched its US Edition on Feb. 23, 2009. The target audiences are definitely focusing on North Americans. As of today, China Daily’s English edition has been issued in many developed countries, and is “a must read for the Western mainstream reader” (China Daily Circulation Department, 2011), says its circulation department. By “a must read”, it is better to see it as a long-term goal rather than a mission completed, but this kind of “confidence” is clearly an indicator that what target market they have been working for.

Through huge investment to state-run media organizations, efforts of Chinese government underscore the top leadership’s concerns to present a China’s voice in global communication, and at the same time, recast the national image by China’s own media coverage, through which a “full picture” of China instead of a Western mainstream media-biased stereotype could be established.

Apart from involving the battles of “discourse power”, what is also at stake for this ambitious media plan is to build China’s media conglomerates in competition with existing transnational media monopolies in global communication. “China yearns to form its own media empires”, says a piece of news from The New York Times, Oct. 5, 2009. The continuous endeavor of the formation of China’s media conglomerates since mid-1990s finds a new life in this “going-out” plan. Chinese government recently announced a project of incorporating an army of “world-class” media groups, such as People’s Daily Media Group, Shanghai Media Group and so forth, to be able to enter the terrain where transnational dominant players occupy for a long time.

(2)An attempt of national branding: promotional videos

In early 2011, Chinese government released a series of promotional videos of China through both outdoor advertising screens in NY Times Square and traditional TV networks, CNN, for example. This governmental promotion project, contracted with a private Shanghai-based PR company, comprises two parts of videos –“Experiencing China” (Renwupian) and “China on the way” (Jiaodupian)- which were circlyplaying one after another during China’s president Hu Jintao’s state visit to the USA.

The first short film of “Experiencing China” presents a number of famous Chinese faces, such as basketball star Yao Ming, composer Tan Dun, and the Father of Hybrid Rice, Yuan Longping. Through exhibiting outstanding Chinese figures, governmental attentions were obviously concentrating on the achievements Chinese have done on a global stage. It is also widely recognized that the best way to soften China’s image among Western audiences is presenting the Chinese they are familiar with. The second film called “China on the way” describes how China developed and reformed in the past decades and how ordinary Chinese people and foreigners understood and responded. By telling personal stories by selected respondents, which is much more compatible with Western mainstream media type of narratives, the slogan of “China on the way” is reified into individual histories. Central to this storytelling is, for the most part, the coherence between personal benefits and social changes. It seems that almost everyone is the beneficiary of reform China.

This kind of national “PR” campaign provoked huge debates, especially in domestic media and intellectuals, on both the design and the real effects. The extent to which China’s promo films have positively enhanced understanding of China by Western audiences remains to be evaluated. The point we want to argue is that those two promo films present a mixture of various parts of Chinese society. Although it provided a good opportunity for target Western people to know more about China, particularly the people not the state, what China is or what are the differences China presents is only symbolically distinctive – using Chinese symbols like characters and chi-pao — and hard to point out. There is no value basis within those narratives.

(3)Ambiguities that need to be explained

A well-designed plan doesn’t necessarily lead to a successful result. Actually, there are many ambiguities and structural problems within those ambitious projects we discussed above. Ambiguities remain about whether China’s voice can be heard and “correctly” decoded by audiences from the West and South on the one hand. On the other hand, if China decided to go the way Western media group succeeded, the extent to which Chinese media organizations will get the same or higher status with manipulative power in global communication is obscured.

Moreover, when Chinese government is declaring those macro-purposes, a key question should be answered in the first place, that is what exactly the meaning of “China’s rise” is. With a deepening social reform on a basis of market-driven and export-oriented, China has become one of the most fractured societies in today’s world. In this sense, it is quite hard to concentrate on a simple term of nation-state without any careful examination about the complicated and ever changing social structure.

In this article, we argue that the key issue around China’s ambitions in global communication expansion lies in the restructuring of media political economy on both the domestic and international levels. By “going-out” plan, on the one hand, Chinese government opened cultural industries including some parts of media sectors to market-oriented private and foreign investments, although those investments have to be mediated by state-owned media organizations in order to secure “commanding heights” by the party-state. In doing so, China’s incorporation into global communication involves a social process with two sides in terms of capital accumulation: the “invitations” for transnational media companies and for “private equity and foreign capital to do more” (David Barboza, 2009) On the other hand, the state will maintain the tensions between the party line and the bottom line. Policymakers who are looking forward to China’s rise have to pay more attention to think about the ways by which a safe balance between them is sustaining.

2. Internal complexities: regulation uncertainties, conflicts between interest groups and social disparity in Post-Reform China

While China’s accession to WTO and reentry into global market system has been bringing in significant domestic social restructuring on a market-oriented basis, much more complexities that remain to be examined have also emerged during this historical juncture. In this sense, a more comprehensive, structured, historical sociology of China is arguably better than viewing China essentially. This coming section will present an internal description on the characteristics that defined China’s 30-year reform as well as media regulations that internalize those ideas and experiences during the social transition.

(1) Fractured society and interest groups in conflicts

Since early 1990s, China has been undergoing a dramatic social reform that is still in the center of today’s public debates about how to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages and how to view it, positively or negatively. What is at stake is obvious that which standard is deployed and by whom. In other words, one of the outcomes of China’s reform is hitherto a deepening fractured social structure, within which various interest groups emerge and play distinctive roles in influencing policymaking processes. This 20-year social transition also enlarges the gap in economy between affluent and poor regions and between urban centers and rural peripheries. As a result, one may doubt that if Chinese government plans to present China’s voice and image in an essential and unilateral way — “One Nation” as Chin-Chuan Lee (2010) pointed out — it should be hard to answer questions about how to interpret domestic social problems like uneven development that is also a dispensable and integral part of a full picture of China in modernization. For the most part, it has been widely approved that this so-called “negative side” is the focus Western audiences want to know more than the glorious stories of China’s rising, according to their rigid and actually biased stereotypes. In short, contradictions are therefore integrally embedded into China’s reform processes and, to a large extent, necessary to be part of national image recasting instead of externally to be concealed in global communication, let alone the fact that China is increasingly integrated into global system which means China’s internal problems often lie in a broader world context.

Considering the theme of global communication, a “turf war” between SARFT and MII1 that is not over yet should be a typical case for understanding those complexities. As the key carriers of China’s ambitious plan of media expansion globally, SARFT and MII, who are in charge of broadcasting and telecommunications separately, have been engaging in an accelerated fierce competition with each other in pan-communication markets in the era of media convergence. The two newly consolidated interest groups involve diverse social forces from government departments to market-driven domestic or transnational companies, which might collaborate or not in presenting China’s image in global communication in accordance with the principles central government established. The extent of flexibility that multiple participants present in a complicated global communication circumstance is the key to explain.

On January 13, 2010, Premier Wen Jiabao announced the state’s plan of Triple Network Convergence (Sanwang Ronghe) in the meeting of State Council Standing Committee (Xinhua, 2010). It is widely regarded as a finally top-down push by the highest leadership in the State Council to reconcile the longstanding negotiation between SARFT and MII that seems never end. This bureaucratic infighting dates back to the end of 20th century. After ten years’ radical marketization from early 1990s, each of them reached limitations of production and consumption within existing regulatory systems: television and radio services mainly backing by advertising met the decline of increasing rate while telecommunications began to create new spaces for capital accumulation to complement stagnant traditional audio service. In a sense of Mosco’s “commodification and spatialization”, mobile phone and internet-based value-added industries boomed in the early 21th century, which also encountered regulatory limitations, according to the State Council’s 1999 regulation of forbidding cross-entrance between SARFT and MII. In facing those problems of accumulation and the country’s GDP-oriented developmental policy, deregulating broadcasting and telecommunications into an entire information industry, especially concerning China’s shift to informatization-led economy, has been considered as the foreground for sustainable development. This may be the key to explain why the State Council urged cooperation and suspend disputes between SARFT and MII.

This brief history of the case of SARFT and MII, however, illustrates the complexities within China’s communication sector. As most of participants, better called “stakeholders”, have become special-interest-oriented in the context of marketization, the extent to which they are able to carry central government’s order to fulfill above-mentioned state project of image recasting is not clear at all. Albeit the defining feature of mouthpiece of the party-state is not allowed to loosen for broadcasting and any other political content related media operation, the party line has been interwined with the bottom line of market mechanism, which in fact characterizes the existing domestic media monopolies who are the de facto beneficiaries during media reform. As Zhang Xiaoling put it (2010: 49), one challenge China comes across in global communication “comes from the contradictions of the state-centered model and the marketisation of the media in China”. What is worth to review is the dual-role of Chinese media and the current regulatory structure through which contradictions were crystallized eroding the root of China’s global media expansion.

(2) Dual-role of Chinese media and regulatory uncertainties

In the orthodox narratives of Chinese media history, the dual-role of ideological management and profit making in marketplaces remains its predominance. With deepening involvement in media globalization, it is fair to say this dual-role effects have been amplified in depth and scope so far, which is meanwhile probably undermining those undertakings the policymakers hope to draw on in Chinese media expansion on a global stage.

(Regulatory structure of China’s communication sectors2)

On the one hand, initiating from late 1970s, Chinese media have been allowed to touch market mechanisms – such as advertising, program exchange and IPO — to try alternative ways for survival. At the same time, governmental subsidies, used to be the only revenue of state-run media organizations, were found decreasing dramatically. In the context of “reform and openness”, marketization shows essential importance to reshape the political economy of media on a profit-driven basis, taking away from its single role of propaganda and furthermore leading a reconfiguration of media systems tied to decentralized powers with different levels. But the process is far from the expectation of people who want to employ market logics into the entire society, creating a market society within which media works. Market is by no means the only drive of media reform unless when it is de-contextualized and transformed to universal principles by which transnational media giants like Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation win in global competition.

On the other hand, as a legacy of revolutionary experiences and socialist construction, ideological management or “securing the commanding heights” (Zhao, 2008) by upgrading types of media control also defines China’s media expansion in global communication with “Chinese characteristics”. For some international commentators, it is undoubted that the party-state is not planning to retreat from “the battlefield of public opinion” while radically strive to forge China’s international media conglomerates competing with their Western counterparts. In contrary, the actual procedures China has undertaken in the past decade demonstrate that the oriental dragon will go beyond borders in pursuit of global “commanding heights”, in spite of uncertainties within it.

By the same token, China’s rising in global communication refers to both sides: expansion in global media market and expansion in influencing world news agenda, particularly focusing on China issues.

In a sense, regulation systems are de facto the reflection of those complexities. By definition, regulation is the temporary outcome or balance of negotiation between various interest groups within a society, and is essentially not stable but subject to change whenever this balance is broken up. The uncertainties within China’s regulatory structure today also direct to encourage the ambitions of “going-out” to incorporate into global media market on the one hand, and to protect the government authority by sustaining ideological management on the other hand.

For domestic media-related interest groups, the current regulation system legitimizes both of their political powers and profit-making incentives. Their expansion in global communication is internally supported and externally competed. For other players who want to be part of this project, however, the regulatory structure sets limitations on entry and operation. Recognizing the aggressive drives from private and transnational capitals, we must pay careful attention to those uncertainties in which regulatory changes lie.

3. External contradictions: ideological tensions, West-dominant media political economy and global communication order to be reshaped

One may conclude that “reform and openness” policy over the past three decades has led a reorientation of China’s developmental orbit from socialist to capitalist, and has been further recasting China’s image as a modern nation-state within this deepening integrated global market-driven order. However, that is merely one side of the coin. The extent to which China as a whole has been accepted symbolically by the U.S.-dominant global world is not clear at all, let alone geopolitical international tensions especially in Asia due to increasingly competitions for particular markets. In her article writing about “Chinese State Media Going Global”, Zhang Xiaoling (2007: 49) observed that “with generally low official credibility, China’s state media have a hard time winning over a sceptical audience.” Among challenges facing China’s communication policymakers and media practitioners, first of all is thus to understand what makes their oversea audiences misunderstand. Recognizing the features of external “opinion climate”, this article will next discuss the existing dominant structure of narratives that is mainly manipulated by Western media groups.

(1) coverage on China’s “going-out” plan: a case

Although Chinese leadership has recently announced a series of developmental ideas ranging from “peaceful rise” to “harmonious society” to the world, Western media coverage generally remains keeping cautious to report China rather than being in line with their journalist operational principle of “objectivity” to cover all the “truth” that is integrated into China’s historical reform. In other words, it is theoretically critical to map how Western media represent and frame China through careful examination on what they are reporting about China. What they focus on always means what they value more. Let us briefly look through the case of how Western media depict China’s cultural “going-out” plan, and take the U.S. media for example.

In a US Today’s report published on Feb. 18 2009, author Calum Macleod began with a brief summary with potential value judgment: “China, known for its tight control of people and the news, wants to soften its image around the world and is ready to spend big bucks on a media empire to do that” (Calum MacLeod, 2009). Obviously, two of the key words are social “control” and “media empire”. In resonating with US today’s motive, The New York Times’ report of China’s media expansion by David Barboza on Oct. 5 2009 used the same term of “empire” in the title “China Yearns to Form Its Own Media Empires” (David Barboza, 2009). At the beginning paragraph, the author also ended with a wishful thinking that China’s plan “will in the process loosen some of its tight control of these industries”.

Another report related we found coincidentally during literature research is from one of the most successful commercial television networks in the world — CNN. This piece of television news by Lara Farrar on Sept. 3 2010, headlined “Can Chinese media rule the airwaves”, presented an emerging gap between state-run and non-state broadcasters which could be attributed to the newly issued plan that prioritized state-run media organizations (Lara Farrar, 2010). The key question CNN’s story proposed is the tight control as well, but the answer to undertake “this big mission” of reversing the misunderstanding of China is quite clear. Instead of attaching great importance to state-run media machines “Americans are suspicious of”, as the author implied by quoting mostly from BON TV, private media entities must play a more significant role to offer “a new perspective” on China. By focusing on BON TV, a definitely “non-state” broadcaster, the report demonstrated that (only?) market-oriented media company can take the responsibility to soften China’s image in the developed North and meanwhile to compete with them under the same rule of global marketization.

To sum up, at least temporally, China’s media “going-out” plan backing by huge government subsidies has been inevitable to fall into the Western-dominated media narratives characterized by constant criticizing media control and worrying about their oriental counterparts who will soon to be able to displace them as a new market “empire”. Following this typical logic of storytelling, we can easily find out that those three reports all ended up envisioning, precisely lobbying, that China should loosen the control of media and open it to regional and international market forces where Western media monopolies have been long awaiting to manipulate. Although it is not sufficient to theoretically universalize or conceptualize what we found in this small-sample case, we still want to argue that “objectivity” and “truth”, the nucleus of Western journalist spirit, are to some extent being used to reify their skeptical stereotypes to portray stories of China as they will. In this sense, academic efforts should go further to deconstruct the connections between those “objective” narratives and their potential value preferences, and finally the political economy of global media communication behind.

(2) Moving from ideological tensions to the political economy of global communication

Last but not least, we will end this section by tentatively articulating “cultural hegemony”, a Gramscian term, and the political-economic structure of global communication.

As Giovanni Arrighi restated in his famous book “Adam Smith in Beijing”, “as something different from sheer domination”, Hegemony “is the additional power that accrues to a dominant group by virtue of its capacity to lead society in a direction that not only serves the dominant group’s interest but is also perceived by subordinated groups as serving a more general interest.” (Giovanni Arrighi, 2007: 149) That is to say, hegemony functions not only on a basis of the restoration and expansion of dominant group’s interest, but also as the cornerstone through which those dominant group’s ruling ideas are transformed to universal values that aim to improve “common interests” as they assert. In doing so, the dominance legitimizes itself.

Similarly, in the critical political economy of communication, Vincent Mosco also highlighted the interdependence of power and hegemony, as he put it precisely, “institutional power, promoting one logic and eliminating alternatives, is central to the construction of a dominant view or hegemony” (Vincent Mosco, 2009: 144). By “institutional power”, it often refers to structural political and economic powers in the critical political economy of communication. In this case, we can employ it to define the roles Western media groups play and the drives they exert on a global stage. Marketization or in policymaking words “enhancing going-out and openness” in communication sectors, which always comes along with lobbying for “deregulation” globally, should be one of the outcomes Western media monopolies want to happen in the neoliberal globalization.

From this point, the values as a base for global communication of China are still unstable and unclear. The key task for China to fulfill, in a certain sense, on behalf of the world, is to explore directions that are optional through which rich and diverse alternatives will emerge instead of being eliminated by “institutional powers” in the globalization. China’s rise, notwithstanding a state ambitious plan and a Western media dominated discourse, is pointing to a critical question we will try to talk about in the final section. That is, is it China’s rise or a reconfiguration of global communication powers?

4. China’s Rise or a new global communication order?

In this closing section, the article will offer a short discussion on the value base of making policies in global communication. We argue that hitherto the recent media plan in China’s “going-out” state project is, for the most part, subordinated to a “trade rule”, which overwhelmingly relies on market forces. As it is easy to find in almost every policy document and government leader’s public speech that the purpose of media expansion in global communication is to achieve a revolutionary transformation – building China from a “big” country to a “strong” country in media communication, commensurate with the country’s continuously rising status and global influence. In the context of neoliberal media globalization, to be “strong” is inevitably to focus on how to deploy market mechanism, particularly under an array of international trade agreements China has signed in the past decade. Far from the nationalist optimism, the invisible structure of political economy of global communication sets barriers that work against China’s rise or articulate China’s rise into the existing global communication order. This is what David Harvey said, the “restoration” (David Harvey, 2005) of power.

As Jane Kelsey observed (2007) insightfully, with the deepening integration of globalized marketing operation, particularly institutionally regulated by WTO related agreements, culture policymaking has been subordinated to general “trade rules”. Namely, “The idea was to apply general trade rules to all services, using the analogy of trade in goods. The neoclassical model of trade says each country should play to its strength (comparative advantage) and ensure that its scarce resources are applied to those activities that it can undertake most efficiently within a competitive internationalized marketplace (which might not include cultural outputs) and rely on other countries to meet its remaining needs (including for cultural services)” (Jane Kelsey, 2007: 159). Spreading the logic of free trade without national borders into almost all services, “The ultimate goal is a seamless, integrated global market across all sectors and modes.” (Jane Kelsey, 2007: 161) As a result of this, culture will be decontextualized to be a trade mark and will eventually have “no value in itself” except exchange value.

She also noted that “The implied objectivity of a ‘rules-based’ services regime obscure its ideological content and the substantive inequalities that result from applying the same rules to grossly unequal players.” (Jane Kelsey, 2007: 161) If China wants to boost up capabilities in global communication, questioning the market-oriented policymaking logic must be the first but most critical step. Even more important, what characterize China’s success in the past 30-year social reform should be re-examined for a better starting point that China can go its own way rising in global communication. Consequently, China should not be defined as a rising state in terms of making its own media “empire” following the ways dominant players have deployed, which actually serves and restores the existing global political-economic order, but develop China-based models that predict alternatives for media development on a global stage.

We are standing at the very beginning moment of the reconfiguration of global media powers, as China and some other South countries potentially predicted, it is the right time for confidence to be poured into scholarly works that will herald a value-reorientation in global communication. In this sense, “peaceful rise” is a good idea to restart thinking.


1. SARFT is the abbreviation of “State Administration of Radio, Film and Television” while MII is the abbreviation of “Ministry of Information Industry”.

2. Charles G.C. Fenga, T.Y. Laub, David J. Atkinc, and Carolyn A. Lin (2009), Exploring the evolution of digital television in China: An interplay between economic and political interests, Telematics and Informatics, Volume 26, Issue 4, November 2009, p343.


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