Export of books set for bright new page

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Once upon a time, Chinese books only trickled into foreign markets but the flow during the coming five years will swell to a stream, thanks to a sharp rise in interest among international bookworms.

Liu Binjie, head of the General Administration of Press and Publication, said he is confident the country will strike a balance between imports and exports of books and publications during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) period.

If that happens, it will be in stark contrast to the situation 10 years ago when, one book was exported for every 17 that were imported.

He said from the sidelines of the annual session of the National People's Congress that the ratio now stands at 3.3 imports for every export.

The rise in interest in Chinese books is due to growing curiosity about China's development mode and its economic achievements, along with the country's efforts to promote itself, Liu said.

In the past, overseas readers favored Chinese cultural classics, volumes about Chinese kungfu, books on traditional medicine and insights into Chinese cuisine. Now, they have shifted their focus to explorations of China's modernization and studies of social issues, he said.

Zhang Fuhai, director of the international exchange and cooperation department within the General Administration of Press and Publication, was also optimistic about the future, although not quite as positive as Liu.

Instead of parity between imports and exports, he said in Outlook Weekly magazine on Tuesday that he expects the ratio of imports to exports to be two-to-one by 2015.

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