China Media Project Fellow Questions Brand China

Chang Ping, a senior research fellow at the Southern Metropolis Communication Institute, a regular columnist for several newspapers in China and a fellow of HKU’s China Media Project, analysed the branding of China in the South China Morning Post on Monday 11 October.

Chang Ping

The article is called “Just Gloss” and looks at a new 30 second advert, called People, and a 15 minute film, called Perspectives, which are to be shown on mainstream international media, including CNN. The advert and film contain Chinese celebrities such as Hong Kong millionaire, Li Ka-Shing, and basketball legend Yao Ming.

The productions are part of a project organised by China’s State Council Information Office and run by a Chinese advertising company.

Chang takes a critical look at the film and advertisement, saying they only represent a small section of Chinese life and miss out many aspects that the government would rather went unseen abroad, for example, people who have suffered forced evictions from their homes and jailed dissidents. Chang also questions why China feels it needs to indulge in this sort of publicity.

Chang Ping is prohibited from writing for certain newspapers in China. For example, the government has banned him from writing for Southern Weekly and Southern Metropolis Daily.

The article was originally written in Chinese for Time Weekly and was translated by David Bandurski, Research Associate at the China Media Project, for publication in the SCMP.

“Outside China, and outside of the Chinese language, we have few opportunities to hear perspectives on current affairs from journalists and intellectuals in China,” said Bandurski. “Despite media controls, some strong and critical views can emerge in China’s press and online. We want to make sure these have a wider reach.”

Bandurski is keen for the China Media Project to provide regular translations of editorials from former JMSC fellows to the SCMP, drawing greater attention to the views of Chinese professional journalists on Chinese current affairs.