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Cultural Industry Opens Wider

China's state-run cultural industry has opened wider to private and overseas capital during the past year.


In early November, the State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARFT) announced a policy to let foreign investors produce, distribute and screen movies, a milestone for the country 's movie industry.


The Beijing-based China Film Group, the country's biggest film producer, Time Warner and the Hengdian Group set up the country's first joint venture film production company in October.


A month later Sony Pictures set up a film/television digital production company with the China Film Group, becoming the first Hollywood studio to do so.


This year's most popular Chinese movies, "House of Flying Dagger" and "A World without Thieves," were funded by private producers.


"After three years in the World Trade Organization, China is opening up more areas and loosening restrictions," said Zhu Hong, a spokesperson with the SARFT. "The television and film industry has taken the initiative to speed up its opening."


The publishing industry saw a breakthrough in April when a private publishing company, the Shandong Shiji Tianhong Book Co., was allowed to distribute books in the country and run nationwide chains of bookstores.


Since then, private publishers have enjoyed rights that were formerly only enjoyed by the state-owned Xinhua Bookstore.


The publishing authorities have decided to gradually turn most of the country's 571 publishers into private corporations. The People's Publishing House will remain state-run.


This month, the country opened the retail and wholesale distribution of publications to foreign investors, in line with its promises to the WTO.


As a pilot city for cultural industry reform, Shenzhen in south China's Guangdong Province has transformed nine of its 18 acting troupes and theaters into companies and opened its performing, publishing, distribution of video and audio products and entertaining facilities to private and foreign capital.


In the national capital, the Beijing Children's Art Theatre had a successful season after restructuring into the joint-stock company in January. Its new drama "Labyrinth" has attracted more than 60,000 people since its opening in June with a box office of 6 million yuan (725,513 US dollars), more than its total from 2001 to 2003.


(Xinhua News Agency December 16, 2004)


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