New Prospects for the Reform and Development of the Press and Publication Industry

From: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2011-09-20 15:31
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 A series of key breakthroughs have been made in the reform of China’s press and publication industry owing to a number of important policy decisions made by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council since the beginning of the reform and opening up drive, and particularly since the 16th CPC National Congress. Following eight years of efforts, the full implementation of the various industry reforms stipulated by the central government has changed the face of the press and publication industry. First, the accelerated effort to transform publishing organizations into enterprises has led to the creation of a number of quality market players. Second, the reform of public institutions has been deepened in a major effort to develop public service providers. Third, the market has become increasingly open to domestic and foreign participation, which has led to the formation of an industrial structure in which the public sector is dominant and the public sector and non-public sectors develop side by side. This has allowed capital from the private sector and foreign capital to comprehensively enter the printing and distribution industry. Fourth, the reform of the administrative system has been deepened, which has changed the way that the government functions.

    April 26, 2010, participants in the National Book Expo held in Chengdu browse books on sale at the event. With more than 1,600 participating organizations from China’s press and publishing industry, the 2010 National Book Expo surpassed previous events in terms of scale and exhibition area. / Photo by Xinhua

 Reform has been the driving force behind the robust development of China’s press and publication industry. In 2009, China’s press and publication industry produced 7 billion copies of books covering a range of over 300,000 titles. In addition to books, the industry also published and distributed 43.9 billion copies of newspapers, 3.1 billion copies of periodicals, 760,000 electronic books and more than 7 million online games and literary publications in 2009. This was also a year that witnessed the release of a number of highly acclaimed works, with state commendations being given to major achievements such as the Collected Works of Marx and Engels, Collected Works of Lenin on Specific Topics, Flora, Encyclopedia of China and Ci Hai. Moreover, the release of more than 1,000 works on the adaptation of Marxism to suit China and political theory exerted a significant level of influence both inside and outside of China. In addition to this rich cultural wealth, the development of the press and publication industry has also brought about considerable material wealth. In 2009, China’s press and publication industry recorded a total output of 1.07 trillion yuan and added value of 410 billion yuan. Of this added value, the amount attributable to the core layer of the culture industry stood at 166 billion yuan, accounting for 60.1% of the culture industry’s total for that year. The total revenue of the industry for the year stood at 1.03 trillion yuan, with total profits and tax contributions reaching 89.33 billion yuan and 62.03 billion yuan respectively. As the core segment in the culture industry and a new avenue of growth in the national economy, the press and publication industry is driving forward both cultural development and economic growth in China.

 Looking back in retrospect, we can see that reforms have brought about considerable changes in four different aspects of the press and publication industry. First, productive forces have been liberated, breathing new life into the traditional press and publication industry and substantially increasing its productivity. At present, China is the world’s largest publisher of daily newspapers and books, printing more titles than any other country. In addition, China has the second largest output of electronic books, the third largest printing and duplication industry and the second largest volume of online academic publications in the world. Second, the industrial structure of China’s press and publication industry has been optimized, with constant enhancements being made to the industrial system. China has developed a complete industrial system in the press and publication industry which primarily is comprised of the publication, printing, duplication and distribution, with major forms of media of books, newspapers, periodicals, audio-video products, electronic publications, online publications and mobile phone. In addition, the system also covers education, scientific research, copyright agency, material supply and international cooperation. In terms of regional layout, distinct industrial clusters have emerged in the Pearl River Delta, Yangtze River Delta and Bohai Sea Region, and bases for copyright, publication, printing, logistics and digital publication have been developed, with some already exhibiting a certain level of international competitiveness. Third, the development of public services has been stimulated. Since 2006, we have organized and implemented five major public service campaigns, including the Key Publishing Project to foster masterpieces, the Rural Library Project to serve rural residents, the East Wind Project to support the development of ethnic minority regions, the Citizens Reading Project to cultivate the people, and the Cultural Environment Protection Project to maintain the purity of the market. These initiatives have allowed public services to extend further into the countryside, communities and border regions. The Fund for Key Projects supports more than 2,000 publishing projects every year, and has helped to carry forward cultural heritage and provide the public with a richer source of reading material. The Rural Library Project has seen the investment of more than 6 billion yuan into the construction of 380,000 libraries for rural residents, urban communities, employees, soldiers and rural migrant workers. These libraries have benefited hundreds of millions of people, promoted widespread reading among the general public and consumer spending. Fourth, the “go global” drive has been boosted. At present, China’s publications are distributed in more than 190 countries and regions worldwide, with newspapers and periodicals being issued in more than 80 countries and regions. In 2009, China exported more than 8.85 million copies of various books, newspapers and periodicals, representing an increase of 10.4% over the previous year. China’s copyright trade deficit has been narrowing on a yearly basis. There are more than 290 domestic enterprises running agencies, newspapers, periodicals, shops and factories abroad. With this, the emphasis of China’s “go global” strategy is shifting away from copyright and products, and toward the more advanced level of capital and channels. 

 In order to accelerate the pace of development on the basis of what we have already achieved, we must commit ourselves to deepening the institutional and structural reform of the press and publication industry.

 First, we must emphasize that the system of core socialist value is promoted in all aspects of reform, ensure that the freeing of minds, the reform and opening up drive, scientific development and the development of a harmonious society are given an ideological, mental and public basis of support, and constantly enhance the capacity of the press and publication industry to serve the people whilst catering to central tasks. We need to improve our ability to convey Marxist theories by embracing new ideas and methods, and should increase our capacity to produce masterpieces, serve the people, and guide public opinion in the right direction. We should endeavor to create brand-name enterprises, products, projects and markets of a world class standard in cultural spheres, accelerate the formation of a technologically advanced dissemination system with extensive coverage, and seek to assume a leading position in both domestic and foreign markets with products that integrate both progressive content and advanced technologies.

 Second, we must continue to consider the wider picture whilst laying stress on the key points. The restructuring of various kinds of publishing houses to convert them into enterprises across the country must be completed in 2010, whilst efforts should be made to accelerate the corporate restructuring of publishing organizations issuing non-political publications and to speed up the reform of the distribution system for Party newspapers and periodicals. We need to deepen internal reforms in press and publication institutions which are still operated as public-sector organizations and make innovations in the way that public services are operated in the press and publication fields. We need to reshape organizations in order to create qualified market players and high-quality service providers. Wherein, we will forge a group of state-level companies to play a leading role in the industry. To do this, we will foster a group of large-scale flagship enterprises in publishing, form a group of large-scale printing enterprises through corporate reorganization, and establish a group of large-scale corporations dealing in distribution and logistics. We need to promote the development of intermediary organizations and markets geared towards resources, capital, property rights, information, technology and talent in the press and publication industry in order to accelerate the enhancement of a sound market system for factors of production in the industry. In accordance with the goal of developing a nationwide and regional distribution network for the press and publication industry, we need to accelerate the improvement of large market and distribution systems that are sound, prosperous and supported by centralized distribution, chain operation and e-commerce. We need to make great efforts to revitalize state-owned cultural assets, absorb non-government capital and overseas capital in an orderly fashion, give play to the role of financial organizations, funds, the stock market and the securities market in investment and financing, and establish an investment and financing system that is conducive to the development of the press and publication industry. We also need to improve the policy environment, legal environment and the market environment toward the reform and development of the press and publication industry and accelerate the development of a scientific management system that is comprised of macro-control, policy regulation, public services and administration in accordance with the law.

 Third, we must remain committed to scientific development and deepen reforms to optimize the industrial structure and accelerate the transformation of the pattern of development. The focus of reform in the press and publication industry is now being placed on promoting restructuring and transformation, with particular attention given to increasing the level of industrial concentration and the quality of development. In addition to furthering the development of industrial clusters and belts, we must also formulate plans to support the construction of distinctive industrial bases and industrial clusters in central and western regions in order to promote the strategic upgrading of industry and the balanced distribution of the press and publication industry in different regions. We need to strengthen our capacity for independent innovation. Efforts should be made to formulate an innovation system in the press and publication industry that covers the generation of content, communication technology as well as production, education and scientific research. Guided by government policy, supported by investment and primarily participated in by enterprises, such a system will promote application of innovations in production. We need to devote major efforts to penetrating the international market by fostering a number of key outward-oriented press and publication enterprises, implementing key outward-oriented projects, providing impetus for news, information, copyright, products, services, enterprises, capital and brands to “go global.” We need to encourage publication enterprises under various forms of ownership to establish publishing houses, newspapers, periodicals, factories and shops overseas. We must endeavor to develop an international layout within three years and thereby boost our international competitiveness. 

 Fourth, we must adhere to the principle of putting people first, and deepen reforms to improve the standard of public services and guarantee the basic cultural rights and interests of the people. The cultural needs of the people should be both the starting point and the goal of our efforts, and this is a fundamental principle that must be adhered to as we deepen the reform of the press and publication industry. We need to accelerate the establishment of a sound public service system and mechanism that is geared towards the people and capable of serving the people and organize and implement various kinds of projects for the benefit of the people. We need to accelerate the formation of a widespread public service system in the press and publication industry that is led by the government, supported by public finance, headed by public welfare organizations, participated in by the public and embodied in the form of key projects, and covers all groups of the people and all the fields. Such a system will guarantee that the basic cultural rights and interests of the people are safeguarded. 

 Fifth, we must remain committed to scientific and technological innovations and deepen reforms to boost the development of emerging media industries. Digital technology and the Internet are playing an increasingly prominent role in the press and publication industry. Therefore, devoting efforts to the promotion of technical progress in traditional industries, accelerating the development of emerging industries, promoting the integration of culture, science and technology, increasing the standard at which equipment, science and technology are applied in cultural enterprises, and nurturing new forms of cultural industry are important tasks for reform and development. We should promote the application of energy-efficient and environmentally friendly technologies and products through a series of technical measures, which will allow us to develop a press and publication industry that is environmentally friendly, low carbon, and green. We should drive forward the research, development and application of key technologies in digital content, digitalized production and digitalized transmission by innovating mechanisms, increasing standardization and intensifying management. This will allow China to assume a leading position in the international digital publication industry.  

(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No.23, 2010)

Note: Author: Director of the General Administration of Press and Publication of the People’s Republic of China


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 General Administration of Press and Publication of the PRC

 The General Administration of Press and Publication of the PRC (National Copyright Administration) is an agency directly under the State Council in charge of directing the Chinese press and publication industry and rights of authors. As the National Copyright Administration, it is solely responsible for managing the rights of authors at home and abroad. The official website of the administration lists the main responsibilities of the administration. It formulates draft laws and regulations concerning press and publication and concerning the rights of authors, formulates principles and policies for the press and publication industry, and formulates regulations for the management of the press and publication industry and the rights of authors and organizes their implementation. It formulates development plans, regulatory objectives and industrial policies of the press and publication undertaking and industry and guides their implementation, formulates plans for the number, structure and distribution of organizations engaging in publishing, printing, copying, distributing, and import and export of published works and organizes their implementation, and carries out reform of systems and mechanisms in the field of press and publication. It oversees and regulates publishing activities, organizes investigation of publications with serious regulatory violations and publishing activities that are major violations of laws and regulations, and guides oversight and regulatory work for the publishing activities of private organizations. It is responsible for oversight and regulation of press and publication organizations in the industry and manages approval and disapproval to operate in the industry. It is responsible for overseeing and regulating the content of publications, organizes and guides the publication, printing and distribution of important Party and state documents, major publications and textbooks, and formulates plans for the compiling and publication of the country’s ancient works and is responsible for organization and coordination work. It is responsible for approving and overseeing Internet publishing activities, cell phone books and periodicals, and the cell phone literature business. It drafts plans for “curbing pornography and combating illegal activity” in publications and organizes their implementation, and organizes the investigation of major cases of illegal publications and illegal publishing activities. It drafts regulatory policies and measures for the market for publications and guides their implementation, and guides oversight and regulatory work for business activity in the market for publications. It is responsible for supervising and managing the credentials of news reporters throughout the country, overseeing and regulating domestic newspapers and periodicals, branch organs of news agencies and reporter stations, and organizing the investigation of major illegal activities in the press industry.

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