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China Faces 'Huge' Cultural Trade Deficit

Chinese cultural products should be further promoted to the international market to narrow China's cultural trade deficit with other countries, top officials said.

Ding Wei, assistant minister of culture, described China's deficit in international cultural trade as "huge" at yesterday's press conference held by the State Council Information Office.

"Our statistics years ago showed that the ratio of imports of cultural products to exports was 10 to 1, and this ratio has only been enlarging in recent years," he said.

Ding would not give any specific figures regarding the deficit, but statistics from the General Administration of Press and Publication show that China has bought more than 4,000 copyrights from the United States in recent years, but the copyrights exported to the United States during the same period amounted to only 16.

Ding said traditional Chinese thinking is dragging the development of the country's cultural industry. "The concept of a cultural industry is new to most Chinese people, as traditionally culture and business are separate matters."

"We also lack well-received cultural products that can occupy international markets, especially the branded ones. Professional intermediate agents are also in shortage."

He said China has formulated some favorable polices for the development of the culture industry, but "apparently, the government should offer more incentives."

In an attempt to further promote Chinese cultural products to go global, the Second China International Cultural Fair will be held from May 18 to 21 in Shenzhen, in South China's Guangdong Province.

Jointly hosted by the Ministry of Culture, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, the General Administration of Press and Publication, and the Guangdong provincial government, it is the only national level international cultural fair.

Cultural companies and agents from 26 foreign cities have signed up to participate, which makes the fair a platform that integrates Chinese cultural products with the international market, said Xu Zongheng, mayor of Shenzhen who was also at the conference.

However, Zeng Wei, media publicity director of the annual Beijing Music Festival, argues that even good cultural products may not attract foreign audiences because of a huge cultural gap.

"The problem lies in deciding which part of the culture should be transformed into a product, and how you can transform it," he said.

(China Daily April 19, 2006)

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