Chinese Culture on the Global Stage: Zhang Yimou and the Power of the Nation


American Research in the Humanities in China


East Asian Languages and Literatures


Zhang Yimou started his career promoting ‘Chineseness’ to the world audience, but his recent perspective takes the position that the future belongs to nations that successfully engage in a brutal politics of power in which the most important struggle is for political strength, resources, and alliances that solidify their global position, by violence if necessary. Should a utopian global world ever emerge, those nations will be able to determine its shape and content, and to settle on its cultural foundation. Although it may seem that this perspective would obviate the need for a culture with Chinese characteristics, Zhang’s understanding is that national culture must be prepared for the time when globalization begins to eliminate even relatively powerful languages and cultures.