China tries to polish image in U.S. with TV ads

The Chinese flag is seen flying in Shanghai, China.


JEREMY HOBSON: China's President Hu Jintao continues his U.S. visit today with a Press Conference and an official state dinner at the White House. You'll probably see a lot of smiles, as China tries to boost its image in the U.S.

But as Marketplace's Scott Tong reports the Chinese are getting a little help from Madison Avenue, in the form of a new TV ad.

Scott Tong: The ad features Chinese NBA star Yao Ming, among others, and it comes from global ad agency Lintas. China could use some image-buffing: Remember its imprisoned Nobel Peace laureate? Its new stealth fighter?

Public diplomacy scholar Joshua Fouts says China needs a clear, concise message to the West. But that'll take more than just one ad.

Joshua Fouts: A branding blast that just has faces on it I don't think in the long-term is terribly effective. The most effective tool for country branding is really communicating with people on a one-to-one level.

So, China's opening language schools around the world, and broadcasting TV shows in several countries and languages. As for its reputation here, a new poll suggests about 50 percent of Americans view China favorably, 35 percent unfavorably.

Political scientist Dali Yang is with the University of Chicago.

Dali Yang: It's obviously not a very warm relationship. But it's a relationship that continues. And people recognize that.

In Washington, I'm Scott Tong for Marketplace.

About the author

Scott Tong is a correspondent for Marketplace’s sustainability desk, with a focus on energy, environment, resources, climate, supply chain and the global economy.
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I just saw a TV commercial that touted Chinese design, fashion, space travel and more. It ended with a red screen and some Chinese characters with "China" next to them. Kind of odd and very propagandistic. It was meant to allay our fears and convince us to be friends, but left a strange aftertaste. I don't want to be enemies; not sure if they really want to be our friends.

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