LONDON, Jan 15, 2012 (IPS) - President Hu Jintao of China made headlines in the early days of the new year saying China and the West were engaged in an escalating culture war, and calling on Chinese people to strengthen cultural production to defend themselves against the assault.
His call has struck a chord with local government officials eager to jump on the culture bandwagon as a new way to spur economic growth. But liberal intellectuals and culture heavyweights have expressed misgivings about Beijing’s new culture blueprint, warning that state promotion of "cultural industries" will lead to a new property boom under the disguise of developing "cultural experimental zones".
"Culture is perhaps China’s last uncut economic pie," says Zhu Dake, culture researcher at Shanghai Tongji University. "In a year of leadership transition when everything is politically sensitive, promoting culture is easy and uncontroversial. Everyone is eager to get their share of the pie but big state companies are in for the gain from property development only, and the whole thing is doomed."
Beijing-based art critic Carol Lu is equally sceptical: "A government drive to promote culture means we will have more physical features of cultural development. There will be a boom in large-scale galleries and other art spaces but this does not necessarily mean we will have high-quality works."Read the rest at IPS
Building a Cultural Front Against the West
By Antoaneta Becker
This is actually a big deal for several reasons. First, Hu is correct that China is a cultural powerhouse that will make its mark on global cultural advances in this century.
In promoting culture, the leadership has let the genie out of the bottle, literally. For it is genius that drives cultural change, and genius is the enemy of mediocrity, which the Party represents. Moreover, once Pandora's box is open, specific results may be uncertain, but transformation of the status quo is certain.
Can China monetize its culture? Absolutely. This will automatically resolve the intellectual property and piracy problem, when the Chinese see that there is money in culture for them other than through copying the work of others.