'Soft power' receives funding injection

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 May, 2010, 12:00am

A 20 billion yuan Chinese cultural industries fund, backed by the mainland's top economic planning agency, will help boost so-called 'soft power' on the mainland, industry observers said.

Wu Zhong, deputy director of the party publicity department, said plans for the fund, announced in Shenzhen this month, had been approved by the National Development and Reform Commission.

The fund is another step in China's drive to expand its cultural resources and improve its image overseas, domestic media reported. In recent years, Beijing has focused on developing films, animation and television series, and also spreading knowledge of China's culture and language through nearly 300 Confucius Institutes that have been opened around the world.

'This significant move will boost cultural industries, improve financing mechanisms and accelerate the transformation of economic development modes,' Wu said.

The fund will seek six billion yuan in its first round of fund-raising, with 500 million yuan coming from the Ministry of Finance, and will invest in publishing, movies, animation, television, the arts and music.

The fund was announced at the China (Shenzhen) Cultural Industries Fair on May 17 after being among policies to boost the cultural industries set out in a report published in September. Zhang Xiaoming, deputy director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Research Centre for Humanities, said it would subsidise companies producing products that represented and promoted Chinese culture.

'These products could help increase exports and spread Chinese culture,' he said. 'Boosting China's soft power and expanding globally are among the nation's key goals.'

Li Xiaolei, deputy director of the Ministry of Culture's cultural industries department, said animation companies and sectors using new technologies were likely to benefit from the fund.

'Animation in China is in a very difficult stage,' he said. 'The turnover of many productions is far less than the investment.'

Professor Zhou Xing, from Beijing Normal University's College of Art and Communication, said a lot of money had been invested in the animation business in recent years, 'but we haven't seen many good products'.

'The creative minds are the key after the money is ready,' Zhou said. The fund has been set up by the Ministry of Finance, Bank of China International, China International TV and the China (Shenzhen) International Cultural Industry Fair and plans to attract investment from state-owned enterprises and the private sector.

Cultural industries have huge development potential but have been held back due to the lack of a financing platform. Beijing moved to address this in April, according to a statement released by nine government bodies including the People's Bank of China, the Ministry of Finance, China Securities Regulatory Commission and China Banking Regulatory Commission, with a policy designed to encourage financial sector support.

Fund-raising for the cultural industries fund is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The Ministry of Culture says a targeted amount of six billion yuan will be co-managed by the Shenzhen and Shanghai cultural property exchanges, which help match cultural industries companies with investors.

The domestic and foreign market value of China's cultural industries is 800 billion yuan, according to the Bluebook of Culture Development released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences earlier this month.

Local cultural funds have been established by more than 20 provincial finance departments to finance animation, movies, TV and publishing, Xinhua reported.

Li, from the Ministry of Culture, said a national-level cultural property exchange would be launched in Beijing this year.

Image booster

Another step is taken towards improving China's image abroad

This is the sum in yuan that will be raised for investment in Chinese cultural industries: RMB20b