Beijing - Chinese President Hu Jintao has warned that “hostile” powers are seeking to “Westernise” the country and called for greater efforts to enhance China's cultural influence overseas.

Hu's remarks published in the latest edition of Communist Party magazine Seeking the Truth come after Beijing ordered the culture industry - taken to include the media - to lift its game as China

pushes its “soft power” abroad.

“Hostile international powers are strengthening their efforts to Westernise and divide us,” Hu wrote in the article, noting “ideological and cultural fields” are their main targets.

“We must be aware of the seriousness and complexity of the struggles and take powerful measures to prevent and deal with them.”

Hu also called for greater efforts to develop Chinese culture to meet the “growing spiritual and cultural demands of the people” in China.

“The overall strength of Chinese culture and its international influence is not commensurate with China's international status,” Hu said.

“The international culture of the West is strong while we are weak.”

Hu's comments are the latest in a series of directives from Communist Party leaders seeking to tighten their control over the Internet and media industry.

For the past decade Beijing has been encouraging state-run media to be more competitive and less reliant on state subsidies, which has led to more critical reporting and racier programming as outlets compete for readers and viewers.

But the trend towards more free-wheeling reporting, the growth of reality television programmes and the explosion of microblogging sites has undermined official efforts to control public opinion.

It has also unnerved authorities who have seen previously obedient media outlets criticise their decisions and defy orders to toe the Communist Party line.

In October, Communist leaders ordered stricter control of social networking sites and better supervision of the media to “improve positive publicity” and guide public opinion on “hot and hard social issues”.

The following month the country's media watchdog said that advertisements would be prohibited during television dramas from this year, as it looks to exert more control over television and woo back viewers lost to the Internet.

Beijing has also earmarked 45 billion yuan ($7.2 billion) to fund the expansion of state-owned media groups including CCTV, Xinhua and China Radio International, according to previous reports. - Sapa-AFP