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Part 1: History and implications of cultural reform

03-10-2012 21:29 BJT Special Report: 2012 NPC & CPPCC Sessions |

Crossover

Q1: What proposals have the representatives put forward regarding cultural reform?

Q2: What do representatives expect the biggest challenge to be?

Interview

Q1: Can you tell us a little about the history of China’s reforms to the cultural sector?

A1: Well, it all started 30 years ago when China started it;s economic reforms. The idea that cultural products could also contribute to this development was already present. The first regulations appeared at the end of the 1980s, and by the year 2000, the notion of "cultural industry" appeared for the first time in official government documents. But there was one big problem: there was no clear distinction between commercial and non-profit cultural institutions at that time. That all changed in 2002 when the country embarked on a project to reform cultural institutions. They gave more funding to non-profit organizations, and issued new regulations to support the more commercial institutions. In 2009, at the height of world financial crisis, the cultural sector became a strategic industry and two years later, culture topped the agenda during the plenary session of the CPC central committee.

Q2: How have these changes affected industry players, and what does it mean for the general public.

A2: For ordinary people, this reform means more access to culture. Thousands of museums are now free. There are more theatres and music halls across the country. For the industry, it attracted more investment and offered a big variety of cultural products. Meanwhile, the industry has also yielded more economic returns. By 2010, annual revenue hit 1.1 trillion yuan, accounting for 2.8% of the national GDP. The government also encourages cultural companies to go public and to grow larger and stronger. With this, China hopes to expand its cultural influence and boost its soft power. Essential to this is the film industry. It has been growing at the staggering speed of 25 to 30-percent every year. However, few Chinese blockbusters successfully make it onto the international market. What are the reasons and what lies ahead for China’s film industry? Let’s take a look.

Interview

Q1: This is the first time in 15 years that NPC lawmakers debate cultural issues during their plenary session. Why is China putting so much effort into reforming the cultural sector? Why now?

Q2: In a plan announced in February, culture is referred to as the new "pillar industry" for the Twelfth Five-Year Plan (2011-2015). Previously it was real estate. How do you see this strategic shift?

Q3: By global standards, a "pillar industry" accounts for more than 5-percent of a nation’s GDP. China’s cultural sector still falls short of that, contributing only 3-percent to the overall economy last year. Is 5-percent a difficult goal to achieve?

Crossover

Q1: For Hollywood, co-producing movies in China has become the easiest way to get one’s film screened in Chinese mainland. Do you believe this is a trend that will grow in the coming years?

Q2: Except for art house or martial arts movies with super stars like Jacky Chan and Bruce Lee, Western movie-goers are not familiar with contemporary Chinese cinema. What drove you to direct your documentary series on China, such as "Dali - Love at first Sight"?

Q3: China has a long history with a rich culture, yet very little of this gets exported abroad. Compared to this, the US is a young country, but exports music, films, books, fast-food chains. Why is that?

Interview

Q1: Hollywood movies are no longer produced with an exclusively American mindset, as they often serve movie fans all over the globe. How do you see China ’s influence over Hollywood ?

Q2: Some in the Chinese movie industry are worried that, the agreement signed between China and the US on film imports during Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping’s US visit will bring more challenges for Chinese filmmakers. Do you think they have reasons to be concerned? And is this not a fundamental of our market economy, for audiences to chose what they like and what they want?

Q3: Box office earnings and TV ratings are a simple way to judge the success of a film. But does it necessarily reflect quality? Zhang Yimou, maybe the most famous Chinese filmmaker, became a household name in the West not from his high-budget action movies, but with his low-budget art house films. Those films really built China’s reputation but didn’t reap huge profits. If we focus too much on earnings, do we not run the risk of hindering artistic talent?

Q4: In 2011, China ’s box office exceeded 13 billion yuan. At the same time, the number of cinema screens surged from 6,200 to 9,000. But most of them show all the same films. Should we not do more to diversify the offer, and give a better platform for young filmmakers to show their work?

Editor:James |Source: CNTV

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