The Popular TV Shows Taking Chinese Soft Power Abroad

Overseas episodes of much-loved programs are increasingly aligning with the national government’s development goals.

The much-anticipated sixth season of the Chinese variety show “Keep Running” launched on Zhejiang Television in mid-April. A spinoff of its long-running South Korean namesake, “Keep Running” pits teams of celebrities against one another in a range of physical and intellectual tasks. The first five seasons have been wildly popular in China, and the country’s A-listers — among them film stars Deng Chao and Angelababy — regularly appear on the program.

This time around, however, audiences are finding that “Keep Running” is no longer purely about laughter and good-natured competition. The new season seems to be participating in a much grander enterprise: China’s national soft power campaign.

Over the last decade or so, as the country has emerged as a global power, the Chinese government has made a concerted effort to increase its soft power abroad. Some of the most well-known projects include the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, and the establishment of Confucius Institutes worldwide to promote Chinese language and culture.

Joseph Nye, the American political scientist who coined the term “soft power” in the 1980s, defined it as a multilayered campaign that reaches far beyond state-initiated efforts. For example, American companies, foundations, universities, and churches all help to spread American values abroad, with or without the official backing of the federal government. Continue to read the full article here.


This is original content by Sixth Tone and has been republished with permission.