As China prepares to host the Olympic Games, President Hu Jintao is urging Communist Party officials to "perform well the task of outward propaganda, further exhibit and raise up the nation's good image." At a recent Communist Party gathering, Jintao stressed the need for "cultural soft power," or public diplomacy, and said Chinese propaganda must "advance the building of the body of socialist core value and further boost unity and harmony." To improve their propaganda, the Beijing 2008 Olympics organizers have been working with the major public relations firm Hill & Knowlton. In related news, Chinese officials "are increasingly engaging in the debate over their country's role in Africa," countering charges that "they are neo-colonialists engaged in a remorseless drive for Africa's commodities," reports Financial Times. China's ambassador to Pretoria, South Africa defended his country's engagement with repressive governments like Zimbabwe's: "If you want to pressure and you cut all dialogue you cannot reason" with them. He also defended "the influx of cheap Chinese goods," saying African villagers' ability to "wear new clothes from China" instead of second-hand clothes gives them "confidence."
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