China According to China
Web-Based Nation Branding of Chinese Culture, Geography and History
Confucius Institutes (CIs) are administered by Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters (Hanban), an organisation affiliated to People’s Republic of China (PRC)’s Ministry of Education. One of the main stated purposes of Hanban is the promotion and diffusion of Chinese culture and Mandarin language abroad through CIs activity, both cultural and didactic. In this respect, the Confucius Institute Online (CIO) website, with contents available in Chinese, English and other languages, serves as a powerful instrument in pursuing Hanban’s mission. As CIs are partially influenced by the PRC Ministry of Education in their policies and activities, they are thus subject to scrutiny on grounds of political motivation and are object of controversy. The main purpose of this paper is to investigate how the CIO website illustrates the main features of Chinese culture, history and geography. In doing so, the present analysis will contribute to a better understanding of the modus operandi adopted by Hanban when describing PRC in terms acceptable to PRC itself.
Keywords: PRC • Web-based charm offensive • Soft power • Cultural diplomacy • Hanban • China • Confucius Institutes