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China's Cultural Security Lies in Openness and Exchanges

When Chinese leaders stressed cultural security in their new development guideline, questions were raised regarding the possible emergence of nationalism.

However, maintaining a country's cultural security does not necessarily mean closing the door and saying "no" to the rest of the world. Sometimes, it's simply safer to open the door even wider.

The changes that have taken place in the Chinese economy since 1978 have proven that closer links with the rest of the world and engagement in the global market have sharpened China's competitive edge.

Chinese leaders have obviously learned from that. The new guideline encourages the cultural sector to borrow good ideas from foreign cultures and boost involvement in the global cultural market.

In the guideline, Chinese leaders vowed to create a culture of modernization that faces "the world and the future."

Sweeping Western influence is not a new problem. As an importer of cultural products, ideas and technologies since the 19th century, China has every reason to worry about its cultural identity.

However, it also understands that there is no way back to the time of the "Middle Kingdom." China will create a new identity, balancing its own traditions with foreign influence and balancing historical heritage with modernization.

To achieve such a balance, Chinese people will need to have open minds. In the past century, they have showed great willingness to do so.

The reform of China's government-dominated cultural sector was starting to gather momentum before it was written into the guideline. Cultural institutions such as opera houses, theaters and publishing houses have gone from being purely state-run establishments to private corporations, taking a more active part in the global marketplace.

As the guideline said, market competition will play an active part in helping to distribute resources within the cultural sector. Competition will lead to fewer barriers in the domestic market, as well as more frequent exchanges with international players.

When a populous country like China wants to spend more resources on cultural development, it not only benefits its people, but also creates opportunities for foreign entities who have the understanding, will and patience to engage in the process.

It would be a great loss for the whole world to allow a unique culture, such as that of China, to end up becoming a simple reproduction of Western culture.

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