Chinese soft power in our libraries

Open Letter to Auckland Council Library


(Picture credit:  David Bandurski’s excellent website)

Hi Guys

I’m concerned about the amount of mainland Chinese propaganda in our library system from Chinese government donations. Much of this material distorts the truth in a way favourable to the Chinese government. And let’s face it, China is making concerted efforts to project its soft power in our region and throughout the world via Confucius Institutes (partly modelled on the British Council and Alliance Francaise) and in any way it can.

The Chinese government strictly controls and often bans any discussion of many many areas, including Tibet, Taiwanese independence, universal human rights, Tian An Men and so on. My Chinese friends and neighbours are being swamped by mainland controlled media including radio here in New Zealand which bows down to these dictates. Let’s avoid it in our libraries.

So as a member of the community and a professional Chinese to English translator who also uses Chinese material in the library, I’d like to become involved in the committee which makes decisions about what Chinese language material is in our libraries.

I also have a proposal I would like to discuss.

I propose that all Chinese language material in our libraries have a sticker on it. The sticker would show a link to a library webpage in Chinese and English.

The page would be a statement about:

  • the committee which decides these issues
  • an invitation to have input into the committee
  • not condoning censorship (indeed our libraries should have Chinese propaganda in them)
  • our library will be careful to meet the needs of all members of our community
  • we will be careful not to become overwhelmed by propaganda from any source.

I look forward to your response.


Mon 30Jun2014


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