Communist Party launches international charm offensive with show-and-tell tours, cartoons

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 December, 2013, 9:36am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 December, 2013, 5:15pm

Recent tours by Communist Party officials show that the party is attempting to take a light-hearted approach to improve its image abroad, an analyst said.

Rather than rely solely on offers of aid and extending trade ties, the party has organised more overseas delegations to explain Beijing’s policies – and in one recent trip presented a video that portrays Chinese leaders in cartoon images.

Beijing Foreign Studies University associate professor Qiao Mu said the latest move by Beijing to explain the third plenum indicated that party leaders were more aware of China’s image overseas.

“The use of a cartoon shows the more personable side of Chinese leaders,” he said. “With its rising economic power, China is well aware that it is time to boost efforts to lead public opinion overseas other than just stepping up trade and economic co-operation.”

One of these tours – to Laos – was led by Li Jie, vice-chairman of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, to brief politicians and academics in the Southeast Asian nation on the outcome of the Communist Party’s third plenum meeting of senior leaders held last month, when leaders vowed to deepen market reforms and set out other initiatives such as establishing a national security committee.

Li’s seminar was attended by 600 Laotian officials, including government ministers and senior military officers, during the five-day visit last week organised by the party’s International Department, the Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis Daily reported. 

Li described to his audience the significance of the third plenary session to China’s development and that Beijing would maintain friendly ties with its neighbours.

But the presentation to two other seminars attended by scholars and veteran soldiers saw the China’s Communist Party’s attempt to remove its rigid image. A five-minute animation entitled “How Leaders are Made,” showing President Xi Jinping  in cartoon images, was played at the talks.

Video: A Chinese animation tells you how leaders are made

 Qiao said such presentations efforts should be encouraged, but added, “I doubt the efforts are effective to raise China’s overseas profile because, in the end, China’s political system and values remain largely different from those of Western countries.”

Li’s delegation was just one of the several trips organised by the party’s international department to promote the third plenum and the party is sending more delegations to countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe as part of new diplomatic moves. A similar delegation visited Kazakhstan this month.