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Cultural Exchanges with Foreign Nations Stepped Up

China is accelerating its cultural exchanges internationally, hoping gains can be made to match its impressive economic exploits.

As the country promised when entering the World Trade Organization (WTO), restrictions on quotas and numbers of imported foreign audio-visual programs have all been lifted, but China holds the right of censorship over all of the content.

Thanks to the lifted restrictions, the number of imported foreign audio-visual programs has been rising over the last couple of years.

More than 2,400 audio-visual programs were approved for import in the first 10 months of last year, Cultural Minister Sun Jiazheng said yesterday during a press conference.

The number of imported products published in the same period accounted for 10 percent of all publications, while international distribution payments made up 20 percent of China's total, he said.

And although the increasing number of imported works is putting pressure on domestic audio-visual program producers and has led to more intense competition in the market, they are not a major threat to the local audio-visual production industry.

"Instead, pirated audio-visual products are the real threats to the business, which we are focusing on," Sun stressed.

The minister also said the increased legal competition had a positive impact on the domestic industry, pushing it to improve.

In recent years, exported Chinese audio-visual products, such as TV series, classic movies, folk music and those introducing China's martial arts and medicine, have been popular in North America and Southeast Asia, especially among the overseas Chinese.

The growth in exports of the products has continued to climb, with last year's volume exceeding 100 million yuan (US$12,050), according to ministry statistics.

But as a trade deficit still exists, the ministry has decided to take measures to encourage domestic private audio-visual enterprises to expand their horizons overseas.

Zhang Xinjian, a senior official with the ministry, was quoted by China Central Television as saying on Wednesday that private enterprises with a registry capital of over 1 million yuan (US$120,500) will now qualify to apply to become export-oriented enterprises.

(China Daily February 13, 2004)


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