China’s Push for a Friendlier Face

Photo: Doug Mills, New York Times

China’s looking to up its reputation in the West, a Financial Times story says. The country is putting its face on six screens in Times Square, its leader Hu Jintao is visiting the White House, and its citizens are being asked to help the country put its best foot forward with their behavior when traveling overseas.

“A large number of Chinese citizens traveling abroad … will have great significance in promoting and molding China’s national image and raising China’s soft power,” a Reuters story quotes Shao Qiwei, head of the National Tourism Administration of China.

The push comes in an environment where, the Washington Post reports, current economic factors play a part in some Americans’ skeptical attitudes toward China.

Almost half of all Americans hold unfavorable views of China, and more – six in 10 – in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll call it an economic threat to American jobs and security. Nearly as many describe China as unfriendly as friendly.

That said, you can stop by and catch the Pro-China ad in Times Square, which critics have criticized for “being out of touch with its American audience.” It’s set to play 300 times a day until Valentine’s Day, the Wall Street Journal reports.