LOS ANGELES, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) -- China still leaves much to be desired in promoting its cultural images on the international arena, although it has made substantial progress in its cultural influence since 2002, a U.S.banker said in a recent interview with Xinhua.
In the past decade, China's cultural industries and influence have made very substantial progresses on several important levels, said Robert Lawrence Kuhn, a U.S.-based international investment banker who is also the author of "How China's Leaders Think" and other volumes about China.
China has enhanced its domestic living standards and communicated the world with its true story, and its cultural industries and influences have advanced remarkably than 10 years ago when its culture, which is always rich and unique in artistry, was hampered by the planned economic system, Kuhn said.
"China's leaders initiated substantial reforms - such as converting government departments into companies and reducing subsidies -- thus enabling market dynamics and mechanisms to advance the character of China's cultural industries," he said.
"The growth of China's internet and film industries are just two of the high points. This story is underreported in the foreign media, which does not appreciate the great variety, creativity and artistic energy that have been unleashed in all facets of China's cultural industries, including news and media," he said.
These advances have formed the foundation from which China's culture can begin to build and continue to increase its international influence, he added.
Commenting on the new characteristics and trends of the interaction of China's culture with others in the world in recent years, Kuhn said that China's leaders have made the bold decision to increase the influence of China's voice in the world, particularly through the international development of China Central Television (CCTV), Xinhua News Agency, China Daily, Global Times, and China Radio International (CRI).
"This is a long-term, multiyear initiative that is as visionary and bold in its goal as it is complex and nuanced in its execution," he said.
"The timing turned out well in that as China's position in the world has increased, and as great economic and political problems have erupted, China's position economically and politically has become much more important and many leaders in the worlds of economics, diplomacy and media are starting to pay attention to China," he said.
Kuhn said that many foreigners noticed his commentaries on CCTV and in China Daily and he was indeed "allowed" to present balanced and nuanced analyses of both international and domestic events on China's media, with constructive critique as well as appropriate praise.
"This reflects well on China's increasing sophistication in dealing with international opinion," he said.
Meanwhile, Kuhn believed that unbalance still remains between China's culture influence and its economic power and China needs to do more to address it.
"China must continue the path it is on, though the road may be long and not always straight," he said.
Citing the launch of China's manned space program in the early 1990s when the United States and Russia seemed to be an insurmountable lead, Kuhn said that China now is among the leaders in space and the next human being on the moon may be Chinese.
"The same analogy holds in world culture and news," he said.
To narrow its gap with world opinion, China needs to be open minded on its international platforms, and it is more important for China to control serious platforms for news and opinion than for China to control every specific comment made on those platforms, he said.
The world has great interest in China and Chinese media should lead the way in satisfying the world's hunger for information about China. For special stories about China - be they positive or negative - the world must come to believe that they will get the most accurate, most comprehensive and quickest information on Chinese media, not on the competing international channels, such as BBC, CNN and New York Times, he said.
Though CCTV, Xinhua, and China Daily have made great progress, there still needs to be more flexible for opinion and rapid in response, Kuhn noted.
International media lik BBC, Bloomberg, CNBC, Washington Post, or Los Angeles Times, usually act more rapidly than China's media like CCTV, Xinhua or China Daily. For China to gain greater control of its own message and image, this should change - gradually is fine, he stressed.
"I believe that with China becoming more confident, China's media will take its rightful place alongside the world's major media," he said.
To the extent, China's media can have more "flexibility" and respond more "rapidly", although they are likely to face this or other kind of errors or internal criticism, he said. To be overly cautious - especially in a world of instant information - will limit China's influence.
"China must increase its influence. It is best for both China and the world to have greater influence in media and culture," he added.
On China's active promotions of its creative culture and exports of cultural products to other countries, Kuhn said that Chinese cultural products, such as films, dance, acrobatics, Confucius Institutes have all made progress, driven by high artistic standards and by general world interest in China.
"This is good, but not good enough," he said.
China must give its most creative people more freedom as creating successful cultural products is not like constructing good roads or cost-efficient power plants, he said. World cultural markets are fiercely competitive and low cost is almost irrelevant.
China's artistic, cultural, media and entertainment professionals can become second to none in the world. Individual Chinese creative professionals - such as artists and journalists - can do more for China's image and influence than what large government projects can do, he said.
There is another major factor that should be appreciated in China's important growth of its cultural industries, particularly as China's media and entertainment enterprises reach out to the world, Kuhn said.
The direction of learning is not one way. It is not the case that China is only increasing its influence on international audiences without being itself influenced in the process. This is extremely important and will accelerate China's understanding of the world, and hence China's power to further increase its influence.
It does no good to fool oneself by assuming that having international channels or newspapers means that international audiences are watching or reading them. Because to have real influence in fact, one must understand the ways of thinking of international audiences, and to understand their ways of thinking is to enrich and expand one's own ways of thinking.
This is a "virtuous circle" in that the more sophisticated Chinese cultural professionals become, the more influential they will become, Kuhn said.
"When this happens, everyone wins - the world understands China better and China understands the world better," he added.