China’s soft power conundrum, film coproduction, and visions of shared prosperity
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© 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This paper looks at China’s soft power strategy in relation to the film industry, which since the early 2000s has opened to international co-productions and investment. Despite many coproduction projects being endorsed by government, results have not added significantly to China’s film-making reputation. The paper shows that coproductions have a diplomatic function, which implies a more conventional understanding of soft power. The paper also considers the tension between artistic freedom and censorship that impacts on all coproduction projects in China and which undermines the efficacy of China’s soft power strategy. The paper advances the proposition that coproduction with countries in Eurasia under the cultural template of the Belt and Road Initiative might present new opportunities to blend China’s stories into a narrative of shared prosperity. In doing this, the advance of China’s economic power is supported by cultural policies that evoke a historical past as much as a shared future.
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