In an effort to win the hearts of the American people ahead of President Hu Jintao’s visit to Washington, the Chinese government is broadcasting promotional ads in Times Square and on TV starring Chinese celebrities. From Business Week:
The marketing film, featuring Chinese celebrities including basketball player Yao Ming, astronaut Yang Liwei, and pianist Lang Lang, will show 300 times a day on six screens, according to the official Xinhua News agency. The clip will also air on television during Hu’s tour from today to Jan. 21, said Wang Lijun, a spokeswoman for producer Shanghai Lowe & Partners.
Hu arrives in Washington today for his first state visit following a year of rising tensions over trade, human rights and security issues. One in five Americans identified China as the greatest threat to the U.S., more than any other nation, a survey released last week by the Washington-based Pew Research Center for the People and the Press showed.
“China has focused in recent decades on economic development without paying much attention to how it presents itself to the world,” said Shen Wangshu, a researcher at the Communist Party’s Beijing Academy of Social Science. “It is urgent and necessary that we tell our own story instead of complaining about how the outside world has misread China.”
Shanghaiist has photos of the display in Times Square.
Gady Epstein writes in his column in Forbes:
There is no question China has to work on its public relations. But this raises the larger philosophical question, especially in the case of human rights, of whether China has an image problem with the West, or a reality problem.
This Chinese news report shows excerpts of the ads: