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UPDATED: October 24, 2011 NO. 43 OCTOBER 27, 2011
Unleashing Growth
China pledges further reform of its cultural sector for real prosperity

ACROBATIC INTERPRETATION: Jinan Acrobatics Troupe of China staged a work interpreting the images of Peking opera on August 4, 2010 in Jinan, capital of Shandong Province (XINHUA)

The 100th movie of kungfu star Jackie Chan, 1911, a historical drama based on the 1911 Revolution when the nationalist forces led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen overthrew the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), won big at the box office during the National Day holiday (October 1-7). This has ensured a bright future for the 65-year-old Changchun Film Group, said Chairwoman Liu Lijuan.

Changchun Film Group, as one producer of the movie, was the first movie studio in China to complete its transformation from a public-funded cultural institution to a for-profit enterprise in 2003. The overhaul has invigorated the studio, which had an accumulated loss of 30 million yuan ($4.7 million) in 1997, but reaped a net profit of 50.8 million yuan ($7.94 million) last year.

"We are braver and more confident in facing challenges after the transformation," said Liu.

These huge changes came from profound internal structural reforms covering all sectors of the cultural industry, which kicked off in 2003. By the end of 2010, more than 4,300 cultural institutions in publishing, distribution, movie production and other sectors had completed their transformations.

Thanks to the reform, the cultural sector's value added increased 24.2 percent annually from 2008 to 2010, much faster than GDP growth, said the 2011 blue paper on China's cultural industry compiled by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).

And the year 2010 marked a milestone in the development of China's cultural sector, with its value added reaching 1.1 trillion yuan ($172 billion), accounting for 2.75 percent of the GDP, and this is expected to be 5 percent by 2015, said the annual blue paper.

As the cultural sector moves toward diversity and prosperity, the Sixth Plenum of 17th CPC Central Committee opened on October 15 to address problems that prevent cultural enterprises from fully unleashing their growth momentum.

The meeting addressed the fact that the cultural sector, while developing, doesn't match China's comprehensive national power, lags behind the country's economic growth, and has yet to satisfy the people's growing demand for high-quality cultural products.

"A new page is turned for the cultural sector reform, as the meeting proposed a number of decisions, plans and measures for the ongoing reform," said Liu Yunshan, Minister of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee.

The cultural sector reform aims to boost efficiency and increase profitability through payroll cuts and adoption of corporate governance in these institutions, in addition to drawing a line between for-profit cultural businesses and non-profit cultural services.

Similar to China's economic reform, the cultural reform aims to "forge competent players in the market economy by turning public-funded and government-affiliated cultural institutions into independent business entities relying on their own profitability for survival and prosperity," said Zhang Xiaoming, Deputy Director of the CASS Cultural Research Center and an author of the blue paper on China's cultural industry.

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