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中国文化软实力

中国文化软实力

中国文化软实力
作者:英国创意产业专家 约翰•霍金斯 为英国《金融时报》撰稿
中国共产党中央委员会10月份作出了增强中国文化实力的决定,这引出了两个问题。第一,什么是中国文化,第二,政府打算用文化实力做什么。

中国拥有世界上最古老、最受崇敬的文化之一,其起源远远早于希腊文化和罗马文化,绵延数千年不间断地传承下来,至今仍然强盛。除了中国以外,还有哪个国家的建筑、绘画、书法、文学、音乐、家具设计,当然还有美食,能享有如此久远的历史?

中共中央15年来首次就文化展开讨论,但只有一部分涉及文化遗产,而更多的是在忧虑经济。文化部部长蔡武表示,文化产业应当成为“国民经济支柱性产业”。

但到目前为止中国的创意经济还落后于其它国家。虽然这些产业的统计数据常常充满争议(不仅在中国如此),但蔡武指出,中国文化产业在2010年的产出达1.1万亿元人民币(合1730亿美元),占国内生产总值(GDP)的比重为2.78%。相比之下,欧洲的文化产业贡献了GDP的约5%,美国则贡献了7%左右。

中国政府设定的目标是在2016年之前达到GDP的5%。这些增长大部分自然来自消费者财富的增加。中国正在遵循所有国家的模式:随着平均收入的提高,人们衣食住行各方面的需求得到满足后,他们就会相应地花费更多金钱,用于购买那些能够带来身份、愉悦感和精神、智力上的满足感的服务。虽然中国多数国有企业在满足这些新需求方面反应迟缓,但私人部门已经投身其中,尤其在时尚、设计师产品、生活方式产品、动画和数字媒体领域。政府则对此表示了欢迎。

电视和电影产业也增长迅猛。许多地方电视台制作出了颇受欢迎的节目,与中央电视台(CCTV)展开竞争,并吸引全国的观众。2010年,中国电影票房收入达到100亿元人民币,与2002年相比增长了十倍。中国拥有全世界近四分之一的互联网用户,人数相当于美国的两倍。而被称为“网民”(Netizens)的活跃网络用户产生了新的社交网络需求,由此催生出了种类繁多的新服务。凭着市场的力量,如果这些行业的规模无法在未来五年里翻一番,那将真是出人意料。

最近,蔡武着重提到了若干项政策,这些政策在其他国家都已经颇为常见。其中最重要的是直接提供补贴和银行贷款。中国政府曾表示国有银行必须对文化企业给予优惠待遇。新博物馆和文化场所正以惊人的速度开张。政府还承诺研究税收激励政策,以支持艺术、动画、时尚和设计产业。得到支持的企业有望获得高额房租补贴、免税期、无息贷款,政府支持的发行单位还会按销售额获得奖励。

政府最有力的武器之一是它拥有土地,能够开发专门的创意产业园区。上海约有70个创意园区。各区政府对土地的使用有广泛的自主权,它们会提供资金优惠措施吸引企业进驻。其结果是就业人数和收入的增加,尽管在某些地区由于供过于求造成利润微薄。最近几年,大力推动动画创业企业的发展,已造成许多公司缺乏资金。

更有问题的是,政府试图利用这些产业达成某些政治目的。中国政府希望文化产业成为中国“软实力”的基础,增强中国的民族自豪感,让外国人折服。法国发明了文化实力这个概念,而美国则为之赋予了一个新名字“软实力”,并将它发展到了新的高度。
软实力能在两个方向上产生作用。它能在最大范围内传达对一国文化的强烈认知感。美国的软实力建立在美国的历史、自由,以及从李维斯(Levi’s)牛仔裤、到好莱坞和iPhone等一系列文化图腾的基础之上。它让外国人希望生活在美国梦当中。一些人会到美国旅游,一些人会在美国工作,而远远更多的人会在他们的家乡穿美国的衣服、听美国的音乐、看美国的电影。

中国的软实力要想拥有这种磁铁效应,还有一段路要走。它在非洲已经取得了一些成绩,但其他国家的人们,尤其是当今的年轻人,对于北京、上海或者其他城市正在发生的事情并没有那么好奇,也没有如此紧密的联系。

在欧洲和美国,推动文化发展的都是一些在当时一般是社会边缘人、甚至异议人士的才华和想象力,即使这些人后来可能会受到更多尊重。回顾一下19世纪和20世纪的艺术史,从印象派(Impressionists)到弗郎西斯•培根(Francis Bacon)和安迪•沃霍尔(Andy Warhol),以及20世纪60年代在伦敦流行,20世纪80年代在纽约流行的“地下艺术”,无不如此。再回顾一下如爵士、摇滚、摩城(Motown)和嘻哈等流行音乐。

中国缺乏任何一种反叛文化。中国的年轻人讲礼貌,青少年行为规矩到了无可救药的地步。单个艺术家和音乐家的怪诞和创造力不输于任何一位西方艺术家,而且中国艺术市场也正在蓬勃发展。但如果艺术家开始在艺术圈外吸引公众注意力,无论关注范围有多广,他们常常会发现自己被束缚了手脚。

根本的问题在于,一个坚持意见整齐划一的政府,怎样才能推动依赖变革、新奇和别具一格的鲜活文化。保护遗产容易,欢迎新的声音则更难。多数国家的政府已经不会再干预文化事业了。即使想干预,它们也会通过英国艺术委员会(Arts Council England)或美国的国家艺术基金会(National Endowment for the Arts)等类似机构间接地进行。

除了约束和禁锢文化之外,几乎没有哪个国家的政府能够塑造本国文化的未来。政府可以支持教育和全国的院校,不过在那以后,就只能走着瞧了。艺术、文化、娱乐和设计朝哪个方向发展,取决于个人的才能,以及视野、努力、好运气的某种神秘的混合。既然中共中央打算干预,那么中国现在面对的问题是:国家干预和艺术自由之间的界线应当划在哪里。或者举一个与热门话题有关的例子,如何在微博客网站——如新浪微博(Sina Weibo)——的挑战下,大力支持官方新闻媒体。

有一句流行的口号是“从中国制造,到中国创造”。富士康(FoxConn)每组装一台iPhone4只能获得11美元的报酬,之后这台手机便会打上“中国制造”的标签。当今最令人关注的问题之一是,继个人电脑和iPhone之后,下一代改变产业格局的设备要怎样才能不仅是在中国组装,更是在中国创想、设计,并由中国拥有?什么样的文化才能让这种梦想成真?

注:本文作者是英国创意产业专家、上海创意及创新学院院长。

译者/王柯伦
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China and Cultural Power
By John Howkins
The decision by China’s Central Committee in October to boost the country’s cultural power prompts two questions. What is Chinese culture, and what does the Government want to do with it?

China enjoys one of the world’s oldest and most venerated cultures with unbroken lines of excellence stretching over thousands of years from well before the beginnings of Greek and Roman cultures and continuing strongly up to today. Who else can celebrate such longevity in their architecture, painting, calligraphy, literature, music and furniture design, not to mention their food?

But the Committee’s discussion on culture, its first for over 15 years, was only partly concerned with heritage. It was more worried about economics. Minister of Culture Cai Wu said cultural industries should be "a pillar of the national economy."

But so far China’s creative economy lags behind other countries. Although statistics on these industries are contentious (and not just in China), Cai Wu said China’s cultural industries’ output in 2010 was RMB 1.1 trillion (US$173 billion) which was 2.78% of GDP. By comparison, Europe’s cultural industries contribute about 5% and in America about 7% of GDP.

The Government has set a target of 5% of GDP by 2016. Most of this growth will come naturally from rising consumer wealth. China is following the pattern of all countries where, as average income rises, and people’s needs for food, clothing and housing are met, so they spend proportionally more on services that give them status, pleasure and emotional or intellectual satisfaction. Although most of China’s state-owned enterprises have been slow to meet these new demands, the private sector has stepped in, especially in fashion, designer products, lifestyle products, animation and digital media. The Government has welcomed this.

TV and film are growing rapidly. Many city-based stations have developed popular programming in competition with CCTV and attract nationwide audiences, although foreign series still outnumber domestic ones 15:1. Box office revenues reached RMB 10 billion in 2010, a tenfold increase since 2002. China has nearly one-quarter of the world’s Internet users, twice as many as America has, and activist users known as Netizens are demanding new social networks and stimulating a hectic variety of new services. It would be surprising if these sectors did not double in the coming five years simply through market forces.

Last week, Cai highlighted several policies, all familiar from other countries. The most significant are direct subsidies and bank loans. The Government has said national banks must give preferential treatment to cultural organisations. New museums and venues are opening at an astonishing rate. It also promised to look at tax incentives to support art, animation, fashion and design. Recipients can expect heavily-subsidised rents, tax holidays, interest-free loans, and bonuses on sales to state-backed distributors.

One of the government’s most powerful weapons is its ownership of land and its development of special creative areas. Shanghai has about 70 creative parks. Local district governments, which have wide discretion in land use, offer financial incentives for companies to move. The result is an increase in employment and revenues, though in some areas also over-supply and tight margins. The high priority given to animation start-ups in recent years has led many companies to be short of cash.

What is more problematic is how the government intends to use these industries for political purposes. It wants the cultural industries to be the basis of ‘soft power’, consolidating the country’s sense of national pride and impressing foreigners. France invented the concept of cultural power and America gave it a name, ‘soft power’, and took it to new heights.
It works in two directions. It conveys a strong sense of the country’s culture in the widest sense. America’s soft power is based on its history, its freedoms, and a range of cultural icons from Levi’s jeans to Hollywood and iPhones. It makes foreigners want to live the American dream. Some will visit as tourists; some with work there; and many more will wear the clothing, listen to the music and watch the movies in their own home town.

China has some way to go before its soft power has such magnetic effects. It has made headway in Africa. But people in other countries, especially today’s young, are not so curious or so connected with what is happening in Beijing or Shanghai or other cities.

In Europe and America, culture develops through the talent and imaginations of people who at the time are usually outsiders, even dissidents, even if they later become more respectable. Think of the history of 19th and 20th century art, from the Impressionists to Bacon and Warhol; and the ‘underground’ scene in London in the 1960s and New York in the 1980s. Think of popular music such as jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, Motown and hip hop.

China lacks any culture of rebellion. Its youth is polite. Teenagers are remorselessly well-behaved. Individual artists and musicians can be as weird and creative and interesting as any in the West, and the China art market is booming, but if artists start to attract public attention outside the art sector on any scale they often find themselves constrained.

The basic conundrum is how a government that insists on consensus can promote a living culture which depends on change, novelty and difference. Protecting heritage is easy. Welcoming new voices is more difficult. Most governments steer away from doing so. If they do intervene, they do so indirectly through an agency such as Arts Council England or America’s National Endowment for the Arts.

Very few governments have managed to shape the future of the national culture except by restraining it and smothering it. They can support education and national institutions but then they can only wait and see what happens. Art, culture, entertainment and design develop in this or that direction because of the talents of individuals and some mysterious alchemy of vision, hard work and good fortune. The question facing China now, given the Central Committee’s intervention, is where to draw the line between state intervention and artistic freedom. Or, to take a topical example, how to bolster the official news media in the face of micro-blog sites like Sina weibo.

The popular slogan is, From Made in China to Created in China. China’s FoxConn company is paid only $11 to assemble each iPhone4 which then gets labelled as Made in China. One of today’s most intriguing questions is how will the next game-changing gadget after the PC and iPhone be not only assembled in China but conceived, designed and owned here? And what kind of culture would make this happen?
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