China Daily recently carried an opinion piece by professor and director, Qiao Xinsheng, of the Social Development Research Center at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, titled, “How to improve China’s image” [on the world stage.] He was reacting to a an article on the Singapore based Lianhe ZaoBao calling on Chinese leaders to more aggressively defend China’s image abroad to avoid being labeled an “evil empire” as what happened to the former Soviet Union.
How can China improve her image? There is not a simple answer. Professor Qiao’s article was short and concise, and he made many great points we feel worthwhile repeating here.
1. More countries are banking on China for economic growth, world peace, and environmental protection
In recent years, theories have cropped up in Western academic circles about the “China threat”, “China’s collapse” and China as an unstable factor to world development. The fact is that more countries are banking on China, given its economic growth, to do more for world peace, development and environmental protection.
The point here is to let China’s action speak for herself. As of today, 50% of the economic growth around the world is driven by China. China also supplies the most number of personnel compared to other countries in supporting U.N. sanctioned peacekeeping activities around the world.
2. Attitude, neither humble nor arrogant, is the hallmark of real power.
At present, there are several specious views about the Chinese: that Chinese officials are too stilted on diplomatic occasions, that the Chinese media does a poor job in disseminating China’s views abroad, and that the Chinese people still lack self-confidence as citizens of an increasingly powerful nation. Some also think that a nouveau riche mentality harms China’s image.
The truth is the exact opposite: The Chinese people have never been so confident. Today, more and more Chinese feel on an equal footing with other nations in the international family, with no special rights or obligations. This kind of attitude, neither humble nor arrogant, is the hallmark of a real power.
When it comes to blogging for China, we should adopt this same attitude.
3. Non-aggresive stance
We are now in a totally different era from that of the Cold War, so there is no need to resort to an aggressive stance.
Our world is more peaceful when all nations relationships normalize. We should lend voice on actions supporting such trend.
4. Continuing reforms
For now, China needs to carry out its social reforms, and to be more pro-active in responding to criticism by Western media.
We also see China spending bulk of her efforts in internal development and improving her society.
5. Chinese scholars should also refute the criticisms of Western academics.
Chinese scholars should also refute the criticisms of Western academics.
As bloggers, we can play a constructive role here. With the Internet and blogging platforms, unwarranted criticisms from the Western academia should be refuted.
6. Different points of view vs. wrong opinions
Although we are open to different points of view, we should respond to wrong opinions. Only better communications can remove misunderstandings and change China’s image.
7. A few (albeit loud) voices do not always represent the whole
Common Chinese should not take a few foreigners’ opinions about China as the views of the entire Western world. Some Western media use a few individual Chinese to represent the entire country. We should avoid the same mistake.
Indeed. Especially within the blog-sphere, over-reacting to some fringe views may only serve to amplify such views.