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Writers Bank a Million for Novel Lives

Writing fiction in China used to be tedious work bringing almost little aside from occasional fleeting fame, but now writers' diligence has started to pay off.

Eryuehe, a middle-aged novelist, has received enviable remuneration and royalties for his bestsellers vividly describing the history of famous emperors in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

A series of TV dramas adapted from one of his novels is being aired by China Central Television (CCTV) and reports say he has earned at least 1 million yuan (US$120,000) for his script.

Popular contemporary writers will have no problem getting royalties of more than 10 per cent of the cover price for each book sold, according to the Chinese Writers Association.

China's millionaire writers have made an appearance, and their number will gradually increase as the huge market for cultural products continues its steady growth, according to many analysts and senior writers attending the conference of the sixth national committee of the Chinese Writers Association, opened on Tuesday in Beijing.

"Chinese writers are now connected with the market, more or less, and the market mechanism is stimulating their creative work," said Liu Heng, whose novel about the contented life of an ordinary Beijing resident has been a hit with readers.

For today's Chinese writers, the road to fortune and fame is connected with movie and TV offers.

"Like an ordinary farmer, a writer will feel greatly pleased if his work wins recognition and economic reward," said best-selling novelist Bi Shumin.

Another hurdle facing today's talented writers is the rampant piracy of intellectual property which began in the early 1980s and is still active. Illegal pirated products, especially material published on the Internet, have robbed income from Chinese writers.

China approved amendments to its Copyright Law on November 27, 2001, which focused on protecting intellectual property and aligning China's law with international treaties on copyright protection, as well as WTO copyright stipulations.

Wang Huapeng, an official with National Copyright Administration of China, said the amendments cover the legal rights and responsibilities of copyright holders and collective administration of copyrights. The amended law also deals with online copyright protection.

(Xinhua News Agency January 7, 2002)

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