China Focus: Adding a Chinese twist to global cultural entertainment market

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BEIJING, March 22 (Xinhua) -- With the swipe of a finger, mobile device users worldwide can now easily read trending Chinese novels on Webnovel, stream mini-dramas by Chinese playwrights on ReelShort, and dive into the gaming world of Genshin Impact to get a glimpse of Chinese aesthetics.

These are among a new wave of cultural and entertainment products, including online short-format dramas, novels and games, that Chinese content creators are offering to consumers across the globe.

In February, the Yuewen Global IP Awards was held by China Literature Limited, a major online reading company, in Singapore. The event soon grabbed the spotlight in the cosmopolitan metropolis, with its tickets quickly snapped up by fans.

On the company's reading portal Webnovel, approximately 3,800 translated works of Chinese literature are currently available. Moreover, the platform has collaborated with 410,000 overseas writers to launch more than 620,000 literary works, attracting a total of 230 million readers from across the world.

These epitomize the burgeoning global market for China's popular online publications. According to a report released by the China Audio-video and Digital Publishing Association last year, the total overseas revenue of China's online novel industry reached 4.06 billion yuan (572 million U.S. dollars) in 2022, up 39.87 percent year-on-year.

Chinese online literary works have been translated into more than 20 languages, covering over 40 countries and regions in Southeast Asia, North America, Europe and Africa, the report said.

While Chinese novels are gaining more traction overseas, short-format dramas based on the scripts of Chinese playwrights are also attracting a growing fan base beyond the nation's borders.

"Differing from the earlier practice of clumsily adding English subtitles to domestic short dramas, the current wave of popular overseas short dramas features authentically European and American accents and faces," commented an article by the Global Times.

A prominent example is ReelShort. Boasting hit shows such as The Double Life of My Billionaire Husband, the app currently ranks seventh on the entertainment chart of the iOS App Store.

One review of ReelShort said: "They have great content ... I hope they make more." Another read: "I didn't expect to enjoy this app as much as I did. The stories are so intriguing."

According to statistics from technology analytics firm Sensor Tower, the app garnered a total of over 10 million downloads in the United States throughout 2023, making it one of the most popular apps in the local market.

As a fusion of audio-visual and digital technologies, mobile gaming is another important vehicle to present the best aspects of Chinese culture to netizens both at home and abroad.

In the run-up to the Year of the Dragon, Chinese games giant miHoYo released a series of new updates, featuring Chinese-style lantern and lion dances, for its open-world adventure game Genshin Impact.

According to the game's production team, traditional lion dancing, as well as other elements of Chinese intangible cultural heritage, have been incorporated into the game to bring international players closer to Chinese culture.

"We focus on tapping into digital technology to carry Chinese culture forward. By digging deeper into our history and culture, we strive to create original cultural products that stand out," said Liu Wei, chairman of miHoYo.

Rated 4.4 out of 5 on the iOS App Store, the game now ranks 26th in the adventure game category. "This game is the best game I have ever downloaded! It is a great open-world game, the plot is amazing and all the characters are very well designed and have great backgrounds," said one review.

Despite the success stories, as represented by Webnovel, ReelShort and Genshin Impact, there are still bottlenecks for Chinese creators to break through, such as content localization and diversification.

Researcher Sun Jiashan said that in the future, content creators must focus not only on visual techniques but also on the inner values of their production, and draw more creatively on the quintessential Chinese culture.

To go global, Chinese cultural products should not be confined to a single dimension or just become one-hit wonders. They should truly resonate with people worldwide, both emotionally and culturally, said Hou Xiaonan, CEO of China Literature Limited. Enditem

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