Before the Goldrush: Creativity without Industry in China

Prof. Michael KEANE
ARC Centre Professorial Fellow, Creative Industries Faculty, Centre of Excellence in CIF, Queensland University of Technology, Australia

In this presentation I present observations about materializations of cultural and creative industries in China and compare these to the dominant ethos of international creativity and the derivatives of ‘creative class’, ‘creative economy’, creative cities’, ‘creative index’. Nurtured in the womb of Silicon Valley neo-liberalism, these ideas have been adopted without criticism in Asia as the international ‘gold standard’.

I therefore want to open up a debate about values, one that takes account of knowledge from the past. Hence the following questions: What really is creativity in China? What were creative industries in China before the Internet? Does the deep structure of Chinese thought, especially yinyang cosmology, constrain China’s ambitions to become a global creative nation? Does China have to accept the gold standard Western definition of the creative economy in order to generate its soft power?