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Millionaire Writers Appear in China

Writing fiction in China used to be tedious work bringing almost nothing aside from occasional fleeting fame, but now some writers' diligence has started to pay off.

Er Yuehe, a middle-aged novelist, has received enviable remuneration and royalties for his bestsellers vividly describing the history of some famous emperors in the Qing Dynasty (1616-1911).

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

Author Zhang Ping, who is well-known for his novels about anti-corruption, has seen sales of 300,000 copies of each of his books.

Popular contemporary writers will have no problem getting royalties of over 10 percent of the cover price for each book sold.

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 of the analysts and senior writers attending the conference of the sixth national committee of the Chinese Writers Association, which opened 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.

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

Both Bi and Chi's novels have been turned into TV series which have attracted large viewer audiences and further boosted book sales.

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

Traditional Chinese thinking held that poverty was a virtue for writers and intellectuals. Scores of literary giants here lived indestitute circumstances, but this noble history hasn't stopped many modern writers from seeking a life of affluence.

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 laws on November 27 which focused on protection of intellectual property and aligning China's copyright laws with the international treaties on copyright protection, as well as WTO copyright stipulations.

Wang Huapeng, an official with National Copyright Administration of China (NCAC), said that the amendments cover the legal rights and responsibilities of copyright holders, and collective administration of copyrights. The amended law also deals with on-line copyright protection.

Sources said that the amended copyright law guarantees equal protection to foreign and Chinese copyright holders and is expected to promote the development of patented products in international and Chinese markets.

Chen Lili, a senior editor with Shanghai People's Publishing House, said at the conference, "We could possibly have more brilliant works and outstanding writers if we had a more standardized market."

(Xinhua News Agency December 20, 2001)

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