Hard power makes a city powerful, while soft power makes a city great. A city that is remembered, respected, and much imagined can, in fact, not only fascinate with its peculiar spirit, character and style, but also generate lasting influence and driving forces. Such a city is usually of immense material magnitudes. In addition, it has discursive power, rule-making status, distinct cultural identity, open and inclusive environment, and the vitality, creativity and cohesion of its people. This is also a core area for the current era of global competition.
Never stopping at economic development alone, Shanghai must shoulder the crucial mission of “acting as a trailbreaker for demonstration and guidance to make breakthroughs and overcome difficulties.” It should take the lead in building its soft power by means of improved systems, rules, culture, environment, etc. In addition, a great city is never great alone; on the contrary, its greatness consists, partially, in its far-reaching influence and mobilizing power. For such influence and power, Shanghai has prestigious physical elements, but what’s more important is to offer channels, platforms, “soils,” solutions and benchmarking models, all of which, together, make up the key to the improvement of soft power.
“Unite hearts and cast souls with the core values, bloom the charming cultures, lead the future with modern governance, glorify the rule of law, stress fully the urban glamour and welcome the talents worldwide.” This call not only summarizes Shanghai’s core targets in soft power development, but also specified in the vital principals thereafter. Indeed, what is condensed behind these lines is the unique spiritual characters of Shanghai, namely: diversity and inclusiveness, pursuit of excellency, enlightenment and wisdom, magnanimity and modesty, as well as openness, innovation and inclusiveness, containing all the secrets to the present miracle created by Shanghai so far. In other words, to create new miracles, we need more deeply integrated cultivation, stronger emphasis on vitality and a more thorough and effective performance.
The rise of soft power is not possible without accumulation, development and cultivation, and definitely the prominence of individuality is also important. Apart from the traditional resource investment, more efforts should be made in nurturing a complete set of environment, soils and atmosphere. On the other hand, this “soft environment” program should be pushed forward in a more patient and more creative manner, where the vitality, warmth and creativity of the city can burst out naturally to realize sustainable growth.
At this juncture, the promotion of soft power requires both a vision and detailed implementation plans, featuring everyone’s engagement so that “everyone can be part of and demonstrate soft power.” It’s through these means that this grand priority of cultivating the city spirit, even at the tiny footholds, highlight the city’s character and strengthen the city’s soft power. Furthermore, Shanghai should fully respond to the people’s experience, respect the people’s creation and emphasize the people’s value, so as to make people in the city feel proud, capture the heart of those traveling here, and attract those who have never been here.