China is rolling out an ambitious plan to support and expand the global presence of its media and publication companies, though an industry expert warned of challenges to the nation's "going out" program.
Domestic publication companies will be encouraged to invest abroad by establishing overseas branches, making media takeovers or working with foreign counterparts as partners, according to the latest guideline released by the General Administration of Press and Publication.
"The plan is to let the world know more about China and to enhance the influence of Chinese culture," said Fan Weiping, head of the administration's publication industrialization department, to China Daily yesterday.
The central government will provide support in policy, resources, information and other services that broaden its media outlets through publications, copyrights and brands, according to the guideline.
"I hope Chinese cultural enterprises will be booming at every corner of the world like Chinese restaurants have," he said.
As of this year, the Chinese mainland has 958 publishers of books and electronic print products and boasts 9,549 magazines and 1,943 newspapers.
The output of the press and publishing industry is expected to hit 1 trillion yuan (US$147 billion) in 2009, according to government statistics.
Fan said the administration has signed a framework agreement with the Bank of China to finance expansion ventures. Other commercial banks are expected to sign on in the future to support public and private publication enterprises.
He added the scale and presence of the Chinese press and printing industry overseas are still relatively small because of cultural barriers.
But the successful globalization of "Made in China" products can't be applied to cultural products, said Yu Guoming, associate dean of the School of Journalism and Communication in Renmin University of China.
"Selling the Chinese press and publications everywhere is not going to happen because of cultural differences and how the Chinese media is received in different regions of the world," said Yu. "We call it 'culture discount'."
He suggested that the nation's publishing and media firms that are seeking to expand abroad should seek commonalities with their foreign counterparts first.
"The investment in the culture industry will not be successful in crossing over unless investors learn and understand the rules of other cultures," Yu said.
The Chinese government's ad campaign to promote "Made in China" products on cable news outlet CNN was cited by Yu as a good example of sharing the Chinese culture and values to the West.
The guideline also said China will encourage private enterprises to play a bigger role in the publishing industry.
Private capital will be permitted to enter the publishing industry as content suppliers or partners to publish books about science and technology, finance, the arts and other fields, according to the guideline.
China previously only allowed limited private investment in printing and publishing industry.
It also encouraged publishing companies to employ self-financing measures by issuing corporate bonds, absorbing foreign investments and going public.