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200,000 Bookstores to Be Set up for Farmers by 2010
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China on Thursday announced an ambitious plan to establish 200,000 bookstores in its vast rural areas in five years.

"Each rural bookstore project will at least have 1,000 books, 30 magazines and periodicals and some audio visual products," Liu Binjie, vice minister of the General Administration of Press and Publication told a news briefing.

China on Wednesday publicized a national program on cultural development during the 11th Five-Year Plan period (2006-2010).

The program, issued jointly by the General Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the General Office of the State Council, listed cultural development in rural areas as a top priority.

Liu said the project, with a total investment of four billion yuan (about US$506 million), is aimed to promote education and popularize science and technology in rural areas.

He said the bookstores, with each to be built at an estimated 20,000 yuan, will be sponsored by the government and also open to public donation.

"Within 10 years, we hope each village will have its own bookstore," he said.

China's rural population is about 900 million.

At the same press conference, Liu said China has met its commitment to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to open its publication distribution and printing sectors to foreign enterprises.

Liu said although the Chinese government prohibits foreign enterprises from being the sole publisher of their own books in China, the distribution of approved books and publications is fully open to foreign and domestic enterprises in China.

He said the Chinese government has ratified 38 overseas-invested publication distribution enterprises to operate in China and 14 of them are entitled to wholesale distribution rights.

"Enterprises with exclusive ownership, joint venture and share holder enterprises are all allowed to operate in the publication and distribution sector, " said Liu.

He also said the Chinese government has currently approved more than 2,000 printing enterprises with exclusive foreign ownership or jointly invested by overseas and domestic capital to run businesses in China.

(Xinhua News Agency September 14, 2006)

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