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Singapore conference paper summary by Michael Keane

In recent years China’s leading online and digital platforms have developed strategic links to the government’s ‘going out’ campaign; they contribute to the national soft power cause by revitalising Chinese cultural products/services and promoting them through online consumption experiences on their affiliated platforms, in the process reconnecting many overseas Chinese to a more modern China. Digital ‘champions’ such as Baidu Alibaba and Tencent (the BAT), as well as Dalian Wanda, are moving headlong into creative content production, acquiring international studios, and commissioning co-productions, in addition to developing assets in streaming services. In the case of film coproduction one of the perceived benefits on the home front is learning how to penetrate the psyche of overseas audiences, not just the overseas Chinese, or Chinese expatriates living in Asia. For international players the chance to work with these emergent digital companies comes with opportunity costs. In this paper I examine the extent of these Chinese digital companies’ acquired assets and capabilities and question firstly, if this war chest will contribute to a rejuvenation of China’s soft power globally, and secondly, taking examples from film, television and documentary, assess how this process is reconfiguring the Chinese audiovisual market within Asia.


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