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Animation Center Ready for Launch

The National Center of Animation and Computer Games will be established on July 27 at East China Normal University in Shanghai.

It's the first animation center on Chinese mainland.

The university, the Cultural Research Center of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Shanghai Broadband Television Corporation invested 10 million yuan (US$1.2 million) in the center to encourage creativity and produce more homegrown titles.

"As the birthplace of the Chinese film and cartoon industry, Shanghai has won the right to have the center from cities like Beijing, Shenzhen and Chengdu," said Tong Zuguang, vice president of East China Normal.

Zhu Jianmin, president of Shanghai Broadband, expects that the animation center will eventually attract capital from overseas.

"Such developing centers are usually run and sponsored by the government. It is the first time that the animation center is run by companies and the government provides nothing other than preferential policies," Zhu said.

"We will attract domestic investment as well as overseas venture capital for the project."

The center will imitate South Korea's format and provide a service platform to help local companies produce and sell animation or game products with strong Chinese characters.

Companies will receive preferential policies. It includes either reduced taxes or no tax, as well as cheap rent or free rent in the center. The criteria for each company benefits will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Zhu said the immediate goal is to help several small companies succeed within the first two to three years.

However the market has long been dominated by international products -- 95 percent of the animation market and 90 percent of online games.

Online games were worth 1.4 billion yuan last year, according to information consulting firm iResearch Co Ltd.

(China Daily July 16, 2004)

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