Entrepreneur spreads Chinese culture

Updated: 2014-06-20 22:37

By CHANG JUN in San Francisco (China Daily USA)

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Entrepreneur spreads Chinese culture

Guo Lishuang (right) meets with Milpitas Mayor Jose Esteves on Tuesday. Guo led a delegation of eight from Beijing to visit the West Coast to explore the culture industry. [Photo provided to China Daily]

China's well-known female entrepreneur Guo Lishuang is leading an eight-member delegation to explore the culture industry of the US' West Coast. She hopes her eight-day trip, packed with meetings with industry professionals, will help her better understand American culture and ultimately aid her efforts to promote Chinese culture worldwide.

"I have always wondered why Hollywood does a better job than our native Chinese of telling Chinese stories to audiences in the West," said Guo, chairwoman of the Beijing Cultural Industry Chamber of Commerce (BCICC), an organization of about 200 member companies.

Citing the huge box office returns of Mulan and Kung Fu Panda in China as examples, Guo said Hollywood blockbusters are so well received that they become household names.

"Weren't those movies created out of Chinese cultural elements — the legendary Hua Mulan and the panda?" said Guo. "Why was it not us Chinese (who created these hits)?"

Chinese culture is a precious and profound treasure of mankind, said Guo. "We are never short on the raw materials — calligraphy, painting, opera, art and crafts are all priceless," she said.

Technical backwardness and lack of creativity and innovation have hindered Chinese culture from carrying it forward onto the world stage, Guo said, adding its influence on foreign cultures is marginal and minimal.

In recent years, the central government and the Beijing municipal government have mapped out reforms for the culture industry and issued favorable policies for investors, she said.

In a January speech, Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed to promote the nation's cultural soft power by disseminating modern Chinese values and manifesting the charm of Chinese culture to the world.

China should be portrayed as a civilized country featuring a rich history, ethnic unity and cultural diversity, and as an Oriental power with good government, a developed economy, cultural prosperity, national unity and beautiful mountains and rivers, Xi said.

"The stories of China should be well told, the voices of China well spread, and the characteristics of China well explained," Xi said.

To build a solid foundation for the nation's cultural soft power, China needs to deepen the reform in its cultural system, promote socialist core values and promote the culture industry, Xi said.

Shortly after Xi's speech, China's State Council released concrete plans to foster new growth in the economy and strengthen cultural soft power.

Creativity and new design can add cultural significance to traditional manufacturing and speed up industrial upgrading, said Xiao Xiayong, cultural consul at the Chinese Consulate General in San Francisco during a meeting with Guo's delegation on Monday.

"While it takes time to first make the soil for cultural industry fertile, the cause is noble," Xiao said.

Huang Yonglin, the US representative of BCICC, said he designed the delegation's itinerary, which includes meetings with the mayors of Saratoga and Milpitas — places of diversified and varied cultures — and staff of the Asian Art Museum, galleries and studios in Sausalito and South Bay, as well as animation and comic studios in Los Angeles.

"This is the first organized trip for the chamber members," said Huang, "and it's important that they have the opportunity to get first-hand information directly from mainstream players on the West Coast."

Named one of the 100 Most Influential Female Entrepreneurs of China in 2009 and recipient of the 2011 Top Female Innovator award from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, Guo said she never stops promoting Chinese cultural values to the world.

She said she always integrates Confucius' merchant spirit (rushang wenhua in Mandarin) into her company, which is based on integrity, pragmatism, kindness and responsibility.

Her two books — Business Morals Will Determine the Future of China and The Science of Women in Management — and the TV series A Generation of Entrepreneurship: Meng Luochuan, which she produced, also embrace traditional Confucian merchant spirit principles.

Speaking at the 2011 Harvard Leadership Conference, Guo elaborated on the essentials of the Confucian Analects, explaining to the audience how morality, intelligence and truth-seeking had worked together to guide her in operating her business, as well as contributing to society.

Still she does not feel she has done enough. In 2013, she registered her chamber of cultural industry and challenged private business owners to join forces to invest in Chinese culture.

"In many ways, the private sector and capital have their advantages," said Guo. "First and foremost, the ownership is clear and the owners have the ability to decide how to use the money."

Guo also presides over the Beijing-based Oriental Maya Investment Group which boasts diversified businesses in investment, real estate, entertainment and security technology, besides serving several industry watchdogs, including the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce and the Beijing People's Political Consultative Conference.