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Stories told the Western way

Updated: 2016-04-29 07:27
(China Daily)

Stories told the Western way

The government's decision to turn to Western public relations companies to tell "China stories" has drawn much attention both at home and abroad. The shift to outsourcing its soft power in this way marks an eye-catching change.

It is reported that five international PR companies have now offered "China promotion" programs to the Information Office of the State Council, China's Cabinet.

While any decision is yet to be made and the actual effects of the new form remain unknown, such an approach should still be applauded.

There do exist complicated factors behind the foreign media's failure to cover China in an objective way, but this is also to a large extent related to the rigid, stereotyped manner officially used by the government. The different publicity perspectives used for domestic and foreign readers often leave an overseas impression of "hypocrisy".

Besides, the promotion of China's image in other countries has been excessively focused on local governments and elite circles in the past, while ignoring ordinary people, causing polarized impressions of China among the official and non-official circles in other countries. Any regime changes in foreign countries may also cause inconsistency in those countries' attitudes toward China.

The past publicity approach is far from enough to present foreign audiences with a genuine picture of China today after the rapid economic and social changes that have taken place since the launch of reform and opening-up.

While making huge efforts to improve its image to foreign countries at the official level, efforts to open the "last mile" of road to improve its image overseas on the individual level is also necessary. Indeed, cooperation with Western public relations companies in itself is a new "China story".


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