The role of museums in Russia’s and China’s cultural diplomacies

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Russia and China have both shown increasing interest in the promotion their cultural achievements and have utilized culture as essential soft-power resource. Moreover, the concept of ‘soft power’ has gained popularity in Russia’s and China’s academic and political discourse. Russian-Chinese cultural cooperation is gaining momentum due to this exchange, and the scale and the depth of the cultural projects have expanded. At the moment, museums are involved in development of diplomatic relations, including within the framework of friendship societies, and through the development of the Russian-Chinese tourism. ‘Red tourism’ (it means visiting the monuments of the revolutionary history of Russia) in particular has expanded through the implementation of cultural seasons, Cross-Years of Culture, and the promotion of cultural exchanges of contemporary art. As shown in the case of Hermitage, Moscow Kremlin Museums, National Museum of China, Palace Museum ‘Gugong’ in Beijing, famous world museums have been carrying out the ambitious development programmes, scaling up their resource capacities, and since the beginning of the 21st century have begun to promote their brand. The article considers the potential for museums to participate in the development of bilateral relations, and in improving the foreign-policy image of both countries. The authors’ research reveals the features of museum diplomacy, areas of museums’ international activities that enhanced the efficiency of Russia’s and China’s soft power and identifies the common avenues for disseminating the neoliberal messages in museum sphere. Moreover, particular attention is paid by the authors’ to ‘soft power’ rankings and to lists of the most visited museums. Furthermore, new modalities of international museum cooperation are discussed by the authors, with a focus on areas of joint collaboration within the framework of SCO, BRICS, and the “One belt, one road” initiative. The authors conclude that there is a need to improve the legal framework for Russian-Chinese museum cooperation in response to the deepening interaction and transformation of the role of museums in both international and bilateral relations.

About the authors

Vladimir I. Fokin

Saint Petersburg State University

Author for correspondence.

Doktor istoricheskikh nauk [Dr. habil. hist.], Professor at the Department of International Humanitarian Relations, Saint Petersburg State University.

7/9, Universitetskaya Emb., St. Petersburg, 199034, Russia

Elena E. Elts

Saint Petersburg State University


Kandidat istoricheskikh nauk [Ph.D. in History], Associate Professor at the Department of International Humanitarian Relations, Saint Petersburg State University.

7/9, Universitetskaya Emb., St. Petersburg, 199034, Russia


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Copyright (c) 2019 Fokin V.I., Elts E.E.

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