Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Translation Tuesday: Soft Power: Chinese Family Dramas across Africa

By Joseph Webster

Author: Jing Ya
Translator: Joe Webster
Published on: 12/07/2014
Source: Sina Weibo Entertainment
Original text (in Chinese): http://ent.sina.com.cn/v/m/2015-01-05/doc-iavxeafr9649321.shtml

The ability to attract and persuade, or what the political scientist Joseph Nye terms “soft power”, is a vital instrument of national power. The People’s Republic of China has an increasingly large commercial and trade presence in Africa, but it remains to be seen whether or not the PRC can overcome linguistic barriers and increase its political and cultural influence on the continent. Television dramas are one element of cultural power. As the article notes, some elements of Chinese culture, such as an emphasis on the family unit, have special appeal to Africans. There is a tension, however, between PRC soft power promotion and the Chinese state's overall attitude to international entertainment.
----Joe Webster (Translator)

Chinese Family Ethics television shows receive warm reception

In recent years, many Chinese TV exports to Africa have been welcomed by African people. Shows such as "Let's Get Married,” "Endeavor,” "Beijing Youth," and "A Beautiful Daughter-in-Law Era” have become hit series in Africa.

In 2011, the Swahaili-language version of "A Beautiful Daughter-in-Law Era" has, after its successful introduction to Tanzania, led to more Chinese TV series being aired in Tanzania, Kenya, Egypt, Senegal, Zambia, and other African countries. More and more Africans, through watching contemporary Chinese television program, are coming to understand Chinese society. In the second half of 2014, "Beijing Television African Broadcaster" aired in Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Nigeria, and other African countries. Along with "Let's Get Married," "Endeavoring," and "Beijing Youth," six other TV series were broadcast to African audiences.

According to reports, Chinese television dramas are in-demand by African audiences because their storylines feature strong family ties. Some of the characters feel familiar to African audiences, so much so that African audiences deal with family and social contradictions through watching Chinese television dramas.

The Cultural Counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Tanzania stated in an interview with media that China's family ethics dramas are the most sought-after television shows in Tanzania. Moreover, because the themes easily resonate, aspirational dramas are also most popular among young people.

About Sina Weibo Entertainment (http://ent.sina.com.cn/)
Sina is a Chinese microblogging site that is roughly equivalent to a combination of Facebook and Twitter. It is one of the most popular sites amongst Chinese internet users, and it offers specialty sites to its diverse audience. The Entertainment site focuses on news affecting Chinese entertainment.

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