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Film as an instrument of China’s soft power: practice, outcomes and dilemmas

Yang, Yanling (2017) Film as an instrument of China’s soft power: practice, outcomes and dilemmas. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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The concept of soft power is widely embraced in the academic realm, mainstream media and political arenas all over the world. Unlike previous studies, which relied primarily on the theoretical discussion of soft power and emphasised the Anglophone world, this study aims to investigate the ways in which China, a non-democratic regime, engages with soft power. Among the few empirical studies of China’s soft power, most have focused upon the state-funded Confucius Institute and state-owned media enterprises. Film, considered to be an important instrument of soft power, has been neglected in the research on China’s soft power so far. To address these concerns, I employed constructivism in international relations as the theoretical approach to examine film as a tool of China’s soft power. For the empirical investigation, I firstly adopted secondary data analysis to highlight the characteristics of film policy in terms of the international market over a period of 60 years; then I conducted semi-structured interviews with the key state and non-state actors to investigate how they understand their role in promoting Chinese film onto the international stage. Finally I scrutinised the statistical record of Chinese film’s global performance to examine its potential ability to wield soft power. By weaving together these rich and diverse data sets, this study proposes a new formula in assessing the role of film in promoting soft power. It also contributes to the existing scholarly debates in the soft power literature by providing a thorough empirical study with a focus on the relationship between film and soft power from an authoritarian regime. This study reveals that China has formulated the so-called “Going-Out Policy” aiming to promote soft power and oversee the film industry through the censorship system. It shows that the non-state actors have played an important role in disseminating China’s soft power and the outcome of film Going-Out Policy is not as optimistic as official statements have claimed. Ultimately, I argue that China’s practice of soft power is consistent with the constructivist school of thought that ideas, ideology and identity are as essential as material strength in constructing international relations. As the main obstacles result from its ruling party’s political ideology and censorship system, there seems limited space for China to strengthen soft power under the current circumstances.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: film industry, cultural policy, soft power, international relations
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Media and Communication (Leeds)
Depositing User: Dr. Yanling Yang
Date Deposited: 21 Mar 2017 10:17
Last Modified: 21 Mar 2017 10:17
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/16486

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