President Xi Jinping pointed out that “We should have confidence in our path, guiding theories, political system, and above all, confidence in Chinese culture, because confidence in culture is a more fundamental, profound and sustained power.” It is fair to say, culture’s role is increasingly prominent in domestic and foreign affairs such as the planning and implementation of the Four-Pronged Comprehensive Strategy, the Belt and Road Initiative and the Asia community of shared future.

In order to build cultural confidence, we should have a good command of the law of China’s development, and the key is to update our knowledge of the relations between China and Asia or the world. That requires long-term pragmatic efforts. Looking into the world’s heated affairs, especially those political issue, the root causes are largely cultural and identity crisis. For example, the ‘ISIS’ shows the complexity of religious, denominational and ethnic conflicts; the Ukraine issue reflects their identity dilemma of whether the country should be ‘pro-America’ and ‘pro-Russia’; as the ‘de-globalization’ momentum grows, many countries have turned more conservative and inward-looking when they should have become more open-minded and inclusive. In a time frequented by turmoils and uncertainties , every individual, be it with the community or the state, should seek for and redefine our own on root of culture.

Cultural exchange has been integrated into international economy and political contests. Now, culture as a kind of soft power is universally valued. We, too, should view culture from a broader strategic perspective. As regional structures are being rebuilt and the international rules remade, cultural competitions are sometimes about ‘hard’ power, sometimes ‘soft’. Between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ is a fine line.

The Belt and Road Initiative makes great contributions both materially and spiritually. The Initiative is for revitalizing the spirit of the Silk Road and for long-term peace and common prosperity of Asia and beyond. What distinguishes the Initiative from other cooperation mechanisms is its five-pronged goal of enhancing policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration, and people-to-people bond. Policy coordination and people-to-people bond is directly co-related to culture (‘soft capacity’), while the other three aspects (‘hard facilities’) are based on cultural exchange and integration to be sustainable and stable. In the past, risks and problems that Chinese enterprises encountered were more economic, commercial, and legal; but now, due to insufficient knowledge of foreign cultures and customs, the problems escalate to be more political and social. Therefore, we should not value the ‘hard facilities’ over ‘soft capacity’, but balance both or even prioritize the latter. Otherwise, China will undoubtedly be hindered by other countries due to lag-behind culture when extending international cooperation.

In new era, it is our priority to rebuild Chinese confidence in our culture and present the culture to the world, because it is the ‘soft capacity’ that guards China during the expansion of its economic, diplomatic and security presence. Then, how can we further promote Chinese culture?

Firstly, we need to enrich our knowledge regarding the protocols of cross-cultural exchange. We should explore new research methods for regional and national issues. After gaining a deep understanding of both other countries and ourselves, we should formulate localized and people-oriented strategies and then adjust them to be more flexible, tailored, accommodating, and thus more efficacious and sustainable. We should adopt expressions that are conventional in the targeted country’s philosophy and cultural convention. Apart from seeking similarities, we should also vividly explicate China’s vision of peaceful development and win-win cooperation from an international angle, for the harmonious co-existence of both Chinese and foreign cultures.

Secondly, we should cultivate Chinese students to be excellent non-common languages speakers. One one hand, qualified personnel is the foundation of the prosperity of a country and its course. On the other hand, promoting Chinese culture is a mission that involves different disciplines, countries and sectors. This course requires not only experts and scholars that love and look beyond China, but also a large amount of experienced people with foreign language proficiency and knowledge of trans-cultural communication, especially those with these qualities who speak non-common languages. China, as a pious advocate and and participant of the Initiative, is provided with a pool of opportunities yet in urgent need of non-common languages speakers as the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative accelerates. To meet the need, we should update related policies and design better training programs. This the responsibility of both the government and all foreign language colleges.

Thirdly, we need to gather all people’s strength. Without people’s participation, cultural communication will become meaningless and lose the engine to forge ahead , because Chinese culture actually stems from people. Decreasing governmental involvement is the current trend for international cultural communication, and a universal practice to avoid misunderstandings and misgivings. The government should further change their functions to unleash the momentum of cultural development by optimizing the system. They should also give full play to the folk and overseas Chinese during international competition.

Fourthly, we should establish an evaluation system as soon as possible. It should be admitted that investment in culture does not necessarily improves efficacy. Therefore, we need to set up and improve the system that is used to supervise, report on and enhance the quality of cross-cultural communication. Currently, our work to promote Chinese culture is far from perfect -- sometimes not to-the-point, not tailored for the targeted countries, etc. A sound evaluation system can be a weapon to detect problems at first, then follow and analyze them, and finally report on and correct them. With this system, our work will have a more solid foundation, sharper focuses and clearer starting points. As a result, resources can be leveraged more efficiently and cultural projects are guarded against being left unfinished.

Fifthly, we should proactively solve the problems of related theory and practice. On one hand, we need in-depth discussion over theories on the law, procedure, pattern and structure of promoting China. On the other hand, it remains arduous tasks of practice to diversify the cultural content, coordinate various factors, cultivate versatile personnel, explore multidimensional channels, build a dynamic evaluation system, and so on.

Chinese cultural communication now involves diverse advocates, various interests and concerns, and multiple angles for advertising. We should speed up to build a system where the government and the society coordinate, cultural resources are shared, and parties concerned are complementary to each other. We need to consciously make qualitative breakthroughs by using cultural exchange and trade to improve the world’s recognition of Chinese cultural values. To this end, we need the participation of diverse sectors in various ways, and their coordination to create clustering advantages.

Culture establishes and prospers a country. As its national strength and international presence improve, China is now faced with unprecedented strategic opportunities to introduce its culture to the world. Under this circumstance, we should seize the chance, shoulder the responsibility to pass on and promote Chinese fine culture, take the initiative to reflect on and renew our culture while having confidence in it. Our goal is to lay a solid foundation for promoting our culture and drive it further, to shift from a country with abundant cultural resources to a cultural power that makes full use of its resources. Meanwhile, we need to keep bettering China’s friendliness, charisma and influence on the international stage.

Cultural Confidence is Needed to Promote Chinese Culture