The approaches to forging strong symbols that represent and communicate China
Shaping persuasive strong symbols from major and hotspot events
Major and hotspot events are the optimum matrix from which strong symbols can be shaped. The strong symbols that are generated from major and hotspot events can draw on the specific contents, the topics, the referents and the social impact of the events to achieve explosive communicative effect. In international communication, it would be a smart strategy of the leveraging communication to make use of the major and hotspot events to produce and communicate strong symbols. For example, one of the Chinese alumni of Harvard University made a generous donation to Yale University, an event of very positive impact which could have been employed to forge strong symbols with which to promote China’s international communication. It was quite a regret that this donation came under carping criticisms from some fellow Chinese citizens and netizens, whose narrow-minded nationalist sentiments posed challenges to the traditional Chinese virtues of tolerance, magnanimity, and wisdom. If we succeeded in creating a strong symbol from this event and making subtle communication with this strong symbol, we could perfectly highlight the global awareness and the general spirit of humanity of the Chinese nation as a whole. More often than not, it is those non-government symbols and non-ideological strong symbols that can offer us ingenious approaches to communicating our national spirit and our awareness as a country.
Another case in which China lost a wonderful opportunity of international communication involves a video produced by a Chinese-Canadian student. Entitled “Why Tibet was, is and always will be, a part of China,” the video was browsed on the YouTube by 1.2 million viewers within three days after it was posted, with more than 71,000 comments in different languages. The event triggered great sensations in the Western media, but, most regretfully, we failed to develop a strong symbol out of this highly influential event. As a matter of fact, to articulate an official political attitude or position by taking a non-government approach can often produce surprisingly good communication effect.
The Shanghai Expo in 2010 was undoubtedly a major hotspot event. From this event, a reigning concept “Better City, Better Life” was developed, indicating that the city is not only a place where we can dwell but also a place which stands for contemporary civilization and social progress. In a quite intelligent and smart manner, this notion communicates the present-day Chinese idea of a scientific and environmentally friendly lifestyle and showcases the current situation of China’s urban construction and development. The strong symbols developed from major hotspot events undoubtedly carry the greatest persuasive power; therefore, in a certain degree, the power of persuasion means the power of communication.