BEIJING — Chinese President Hu Jintao has told Communist Party members that hostile forces abroad are trying to westernize and divide the country with their cultural influence and that officials must remain vigilant against such efforts.
The party magazine Seeking Truth this week published an excerpt of a speech by Hu to party leaders in October in which he said China is facing a difficult ideological struggle.
"We must clearly see that international hostile forces are intensifying the strategic plot of westernizing and dividing China, and ideological and cultural fields are the focal areas of their long-term infiltration," Hu said.
Hu did not specify who the hostile forces are, but Chinese leaders have tried to bolster their legitimacy with a more demanding public by depicting China as being engaged in an ideological and cultural war with the West.
Hu's remarks are part of the Communist Party's broader push to reinforce socialist principles in an attempt to counter calls by liberal Chinese for "universal values" such as freedom of expression, which state media often portray as Western concepts unsuited to China's unique circumstances.
Chinese leaders are under pressure from a public that is upset over income inequality, corruption and other ills of rapid growth and that feels empowered by rising prosperity and social media to criticize the government.
To compete for ideological influence, party leaders have said China must create more cultural products like books, films and art to attract Chinese and foreign audiences. As part of efforts to wrest back Communist Party control over cultural industries, China also recently said it would limit reality TV shows and other light fare shown on satellite television stations.
"We should deeply understand the seriousness and complexity of the ideological struggle, always sound the alarms and remain vigilant, and take forceful measures to be on guard and respond," Hu said in the speech, made at an annual policy meeting of the party's Central Committee – 365 members of the power elite.
China has stepped up a campaign to boost its influence by making movies that promote Chinese culture or the Communist Party's legitimacy. These include "Beginning of the Great Revival," a film to celebrate the Communist Party's 90th anniversary, and the 2009 blockbuster "The Founding of a Republic" marking 60 years of Communist rule.
The government also has mounted concerted efforts to police the Internet and, after "Arab spring" protests ousted autocrats in Egypt and Tunisia, to intimidate Chinese political activists from launching a similar movement.
Last month, Beijing and other city authorities ordered Internet microblogs to require users to register with their real names, a tightening of rules aimed at controlling China's rapidly growing social networks. Last year, microblogs helped mobilize 12,000 people in the northeastern city of Dalian to successfully demand the relocation of a petrochemical factory.