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Film to boost Chinese image

By Wang Ying (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-07-30 13:04
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Feature, commercial follow success of Beijing Olympics, Shanghai Expo

SHANGHAI - The country will start shooting its first national publicity film in the capital as part of latest efforts to boost its image worldwide.

The Shanghai Lowe & Partners advertising company has been assigned to shoot the film, Wang Lijun, assistant to the company's president, told China Daily in an interview.

The film will consist of two parts: A 15-minute feature movie to be used at important events of Chinese embassies; and a 30-second commercial aired on mainstream international media.

The 15-minute feature is aimed at showcasing the multiple facets of the country including its politics, economy, society, scientific research, education, environment and ethnic groups.

The movie will provide a panorama of China's accomplishments and present the Chinese spirit in modern times, Wang said.

It will be broadcast before National Day, which falls on October 1.

The 30-second commercial will represent prominent Chinese elites from different walks of life, including those from the sports, academia, science and technology, business and entertainment sectors.

More than 30 celebrities will appear in the commercial, including Yuan Longping, dubbed the "Father of Hybrid Rice" in China, basketball star Yao Ming, major Chinese portal founder Ding Lei and Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing.

"It's aimed at presenting China's national image as a dynamic country," Wang said.

The commercial is expected to be aired on CNN and BBC in September.

The State Council Information Office proposed the film project and is funding it, Wang said.

The Chinese government's latest move to boost the country's image follows its successful hosting of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and the ongoing Expo 2010 Shanghai.

A poll sponsored by BBC in April showed that China's image has seen an upswing after hitting a low last year.

A total of 29,000 adults from 28 countries gave their opinions of other nations in the poll. Among them, 41 percent saw China as having a positive influence on the world, 2 percentage points up from the previous year; while 38 percent held a negative view, 2 percentage points down from 2009.

China's image slipped last year partly due to the 2008 Lhasa riot in the Tibet autonomous region, analysts said.

Toronto-based opinion research consultancy GlobeScan and University of Maryland have conducted the poll since 2005.

In the previous four years, China's image remained relatively positive with about 45 percent of positive votes.

"China's increasingly important role in global development and peace will be recognized by people around the world," said Gong Li, an international strategy studies scholar at the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.

"And as long as China remains a responsible country, the world will judge it fairly."

Liu Jianming, a professor specializing in communications from Tsinghua University, said China is starting to leverage global public relations and that will help it build a more positive image among foreign audiences.

"But I think the film should display multiple sides and different social classes of a current China, without exaggeration or distortion," he said.

Dennis Hubbs, a patent attorney in Washington DC, is positive about the effects of the 30-second commercial.

"I like them choosing Yao Ming. Yao has a very good reputation in the United States. He's a little bit shy but so nice and honest. With such people, the commercial will have better credibility," he said.

But it is easier for the commercial to impact US audiences in tourism and other non-political areas, Hubbs said.

A number of researchers have also voiced their concerns over the use of a publicity film to boost the country's image.

Gu Xiaoming, a researcher at Shanghai-based Fudan University, said the film cannot represent the entire picture of China.

"A publicity film should not only showcase its national image to the world, it should also deliver its perspective of the world," he said.

In November last year, China launched a global "Made in China" advertising campaign that included airing a 30-second commercial on CNN and BBC to stress the importance of cooperation between Chinese companies and overseas partners in producing quality products.

Qian Wenzhong, a history professor at Fudan University and a renowned media commentator, wrote on his blog that the advertising created a new possibility for China to correct its product image and boosted its efforts to be an important part of the world.

China Daily