Nourishing the splendid ancient Chinese civilization, the extensive and profound Chinese culture was communicated through the Silk Road and oceangoing voyages to the rest of the world. Chinese philosophies, values, science and technology were spreading across Asia and Europe, exerting great influences on the evolution of human civilization.
In today's China, supported by in-depth reform on cultural system, cultural industries have taken another step forward in going global as evidenced by a set of inspiring statistics. China's cultural export in 2015 was marked by its substantial growth, amounting to USD 87.12 billion in cultural products, USD 20.02 billion in cultural services, a year-on-year increase of 37.2% and 22% higher than the growth rate of China's service export; and outbound direct investment in culture, sports and entertainment reached USD 1.36 billion, a year-on-year growth of 257.9% and 248% higher than the growth rate of non-financial outward foreign direct investment.
As both a physical carrier of culture and a leading force in culture's going global, books define in what degree Chinese culture influences the world and how much room is left for its development. So the going global of China's publishing industry must be strategically and globally arranged in the context of information globalization and a highly-competitive international publishing market for better development prospects worldwide.
I. A Courageous Pioneer: Accelerated Process of Going Global
Publishing serves both the core and basis of cultural construction, and books are an irreplaceable main channel for cultural inheritance and communication because without books, human history and spirit are unable to pass from one generation to another. Through the major reform, opening-up and development since the year of 2000, China's publishing industry has been reshaped with inspiring achievements and changes acknowledged by its global counterparts, including significantly improved strength and capability in publishing, up-to-date publishing technology, on-going industry convergence, accelerated pace of going global, fast-growing copyright support, and rising international prestige.
At the same time, we should bear in mind that China is currently giant, but not powerful in publishing and it’s in the transition from being giant to powerful. Globally speaking, such transition needs a qualitative leap and China isn't truly powerful in publishing until it meets the four criteria as follows: First, its cultural achievement stays ahead of other countries in the world and plays a leading role in advancing human civilization. Second, its way of publication production is advanced, globally influential, and integrated with both trends and needs of the time. Third, its publishing enterprises are capable of raising powerful market players with some being listed in the top ten transnational publishing enterprises. Fourth, it owns a say in the global publishing world based on its internationally-celebrated academic masters and publishers in large numbers. In the era of globalized cultural communication, the go-global strategy of publishing industry- a fundamental part of cultural industries- is tough and complicated in its implementation because it has a direct bearing on the transformation from being giant to powerful in publishing, as well as the improvement of China's soft power and global influence of its culture.
With the improvement in China's economy and international status over the decades, a great number of go-global projects, including Classic China International Publishing Project, Publishing Project of Translated Pieces on Chinese Culture, and China Book International, have been launched in the publishing industry, indicating a steady pace and fruitful results of the go-global strategy.
On one hand, China's publishing enjoys diversified ways for going global. Through being the guest of honor at international book fairs, book export and import trade, Chinese-foreign cooperative publishing, Sino-foreign cultural exchanges, cross-border mergers by publishing enterprises, and building of international distribution network, domestic publishing is being integrated into the world market at a faster pace.
By doing so, China has developed book trade in 196 countries and regions, and established publishing enterprises in 42 major countries so far. When working in the former General Administration of Press and Publication of the People's Republic of China, I have set three goals, or "Three Musts": we must participate into major book fairs around the globe, we must establish China's publishing enterprises in 40 major countries, and we must carry out copyright trade all the year round. Till now, these goals have been basically realized. In addition, China's publishing industry, acting as the biggest highlight at well-known book fairs in Frankfurt, New York, London, Paris and Moscow, has attracted publishers and readers around the globe, and attention from mainstream society.
On the other hand, taking the advantage of accomplishing major tasks through concentrated efforts, eight state-backed projects have been launched, including Classic China International Publishing Project, China Book International, and Mutual Translation Program Between Books of China and Foreign Countries, contributing to a whole-process, all-field pattern for going global in content production, translation publishing, distribution and promotion, and market operation. Since the deficit in China's copyright trade was significantly reduced and the ratio between types of copyright exports and imports was increased from 1:10 in 2005 to 1:1.4 in 2015, China has been a major exporter of international copyright.
China's entry into the International Publishers Association in 2015 is particularly noteworthy, indicating that the rapid growth of China's publishing industry in recent years has been widely acknowledged by its international counterparts. Since China is qualified for decision making in international publishing, it will play a significant role in driving the global publishing industry to grow, facilitating China's publishing industry to go global, and serving as an excellent teller of China's stories.
II. A Steadfast Innovator: Creating a Three-Dimensional Pattern of Going Global
Generally speaking, China's publishing sector keeps innovating and deepening, offering new highlights in going global of capital, enterprises, products and talented persons.
Firstly, overseas arrangements are accelerated as capitals go global. China's publishing is undergoing a profound change from copyright export to capital export in the process of going global. Although copyright export has made great progress as the leading go-global method in a long historical period, this method alone cannot afford a leap forward of publishing in going global, nor radical changes to overall arrangements of the international publishing market. So a new method of market-oriented and localized operation is urgently needed for better communicate Chinese culture on the world stage.
The number of China's publishing enterprises investing and developing overseas has been growing rapidly in recent years. With a focus on overseas publishing, many enterprises are accelerating investment in the global cultural market by means of joint venture, share subscription, merger and acquisition, and green field investment, and expanding business along the whole industrial chain around the globe. Large groups such as China Publishing Group and Phoenix Publishing & Media Group have established their sole corporations overseas, and publishing enterprises such as China Youth Publishing Group, People's Medical Publishing House, Zhejiang Publishing United Group and Qingdao Publishing Group have also set up their overseas enterprises. As the advanced form of publishers' going global, capital export to foreign countries and setting up entities overseas call for internationally-focused enterprises with experience of localized operation and investment overseas. While stepping up their pace of going global, some mainstay enterprises have taken a positive attitude in exploring methods for sustained growth and successful business models in going global. Their exploration contributes to not only higher profits, but also higher capability and level for Chinese publishers' going global as they can accumulate direct experience in overseas expansion.
Secondly, the international level is improved as enterprises go global. As proved by successful practices of many foreign enterprises, enterprises are the major practitioners of going global. As propellers of American culture, Microsoft, Apple and Hollywood have not only greatly benefited from their domestic markets, but also exported their values. Therefore, enterprises which are a crucial part in going global of China's publishing shall communicate Chinese culture and influence global citizens with the help of their own publications.
To go global, the publishing industry relies on multi-level cooperation, including cooperation between governments, between industries, and between enterprises. Enterprises are real market players in the going global process during which they are led by governments and bridged by industry associations. Their most essential activities, also known as the key to propelling cultural products to go global, involve seizing opportunities for cooperation, seeking global partnerships, identifying efficient ways of cooperation, and expanding market through the international market distribution network. Hence, enterprises must be regarded as the main driving force in going global.
In recent years, enterprises are playing a growing role as main market players in going global because they not only produce go-global products, but also seek room for overseas development by either direct stationing overseas, or investment, joint venture and cooperation, or even merging with their foreign counterparts. A batch of powerful, competitive mainstay enterprises on press and publication are exemplary in going global thanks to successful strategies of localization, promoting exports through imports, and global marketing by borrowing resources from large enterprises, leading to export-oriented development of their peers. So their successful cases should be summarized and promoted in order to play a leading role in going global.
Thirdly, more excellent books are exported as products go global. The go-global strategy of China’s publishing is rooted in its products with excellent content and achieved through excellent books on reading lists for foreign readers. China's publishing industry in 2015 presented its image over the platform of many international book fairs, marking a worldwide Chinese fashion featured by going global of a huge batch of excellent books of China. The multilingual edition of Xi Jinping: The Governance of China, immediately after its first release at the Frankfurt International Book Fair in October 2014, has garnered wide attention from the international community. As a best-seller, this book has been distributed to over 100 countries and regions with a circulation of more than 400,000. In addition, books on culture with Chinese characteristics are also well received overseas.
During the process of going global, books are the carrier of Chinese culture and values. Only by implementing stricter quality control can we produce more excellent books with profound thought, exquisite art and perfect workmanship, and introduce to overseas readers the socialist road with Chinese characteristics and the Chinese dream, development and changes in China, and traditional cultural classics and contemporary masterpieces in an authentic and vivid way, in order to showcase the unique charm of China to the world. So "What We Write Prevails" as a guideline must be upheld by telling good stories, sound reasoning and clear facts in credible and readable books, which is the critical point for stimulating more excellent Chinese books to go global and expanding the influence of Chinese culture around the globe.
Fourthly, internationally-focused teams are expanding as talented persons go global. Since talented persons are fundamental for publishing's going global, a high-caliber, globally-competitive team of talented persons on publishing is needed for either more powerful discourse and global communication or stronger global competitiveness and influence of China's publishing industry. During the last few years, internationally-focused talented persons on press and publication, including copyright protection, international publishing trade, international publishing cooperation, and compilation and communication of international news, have been brought out with a remarkable effect by means of overseas training, serving temporary publishing-related positions, and business exchange and cooperation, thus building a go-global team for press and publication. Currently, all publishing groups and most of large publishing units in China are equipped with specialized international institutions and high-caliber personnel in charge of international publishing and going global, and exhibitors participating into major book fairs these years are more specialized and internationally focused, a sharp contrast to "going abroad in turns" in past years. Growing teams of talented persons in copyright trade, translation for publishing and export-oriented operation and management are important human resources for China's publishing to access the international market.
III. Problem Analysis: Stronger International Influence In Urgent Need
China’s publishing industry has achieved tremendous, universally-recognized results in its going global process, but there are still prominent problems in the situation of global cultural development. The global cultural situation featured by contrast between powerful western countries and weak China has not been radically changed because current Chinese culture is generally weak in its global influence and competitiveness as evidenced by loss of discourse, low-efficient channels of communication, weak industrial basis and few masterpieces. The above-mentioned problems are hereby attributed to the following aspects from the perspective of publishing industry.
Globally speaking, China's publishing is faced with adverse situation in going global: global publishing has long been market-oriented and developed western countries are playing a leading role in the global publishing market monopolized by transnational media groups with their political, economic, cultural, and even lingual advantages. According to statistics, 90% of global information resources and 70% of global book markets are under control of developed countries, which are intrinsic negative factors for China's publishing - a newcomer to the world market. It's thus very difficult for China's publishers to go global. It's weak in general, even though breakthroughs may be made in some parts,
From the perspective of publishing industry, the going global of publishing is far from being positive because it's strategically neglected in the whole industry and the great power awareness needs to be enhanced. It's also affected by some poorly-implemented supportive policies and imperfect supporting measures, weak brand awareness in view of limited copyright export and copyright trade far from being normalized, low capability in cultural communication through new techniques and channels due to untapped potential in export of digital publications, unexploited market based on increasingly needed export of physical products, low digital level and high carbon level in export of printing services. Moreover, the international competitiveness and influence of mainstay enterprises which go global are inferior to those of transnational enterprises.
From the perspective of content, the way that books express fails to fully meet the requirements of international readers who can neither understand nor accept Chinese culture expressed or communicated in our out-of-fashion language and way of thinking. So ways of thinking and expressions appropriate for international communication based on equal dialogue and storytelling should be explored for larger groups of international readers.
In addition, other bottlenecks include shortage of qualified translators, low-quality translations and outdated techniques in digital publishing, all of which are "short spots" that we shall shore up. Cultural products introduced from Japan, Korea and the U.S. are quite influential in China partly because their products are spreading in the way accepted by Chinese people – It's quite necessary for us to learn from because Chinese culture must be recognized and accepted around the globe if it expects a larger global influence.
IV. Innovation-driven: Stimulate the Motive Power for Industry Growth
Globally speaking, every powerful country in publishing, in the course of its being internationally focused, has laid the foundation for its stronger cultural soft power and national competitiveness by bringing up a large batch of globally-competitive publishing enterprises based on its actual conditions, well-integrated cultural resources and advantages in culture, policy, technology, brand, channel and talented person. In this context, China's innovation-driven publishing should, in line with the trend of global development, take a pragmatic attitude in exploring both the publishing experience from powerful countries and reform and innovation in publishing content, form of product, international channels, related policies, and mechanism for talented persons, so as to find a path for international development with Chinese characteristics.
Firstly, new content for publishing with guaranteed quality. Content of books is what readers need at any time and it's thus all-important to create high-quality press or publishing pieces revealing the spirit of China. Internationally-celebrated brand books with proprietary intellectual property rights and core competitiveness in key fields, including professional books, education books, and books for the public, should be not only published with new and rich content, but also accessible to readers in the western mainstream society by drawing upon the modes of operation in international book market, with a view to enhancing the attractiveness of Chinese culture.
Secondly, new form of products with higher market coverage. Compared with books, newspapers, magazines and other paper publications, digital publications are more accessible to overseas market due to their large volume, high spreading speed and large coverage. Therefore, publications should be accelerated in its traditional-to-digital transformation by taking full advantage of digital technology and channels and increasing copyright export and international communication of digital publications, whose international market coverage should be increased by exporting e-books and digital publications with all kinds of new user terminals. Meanwhile, content delivery platform for digital publications’ going global should be established by speeding up the integration of digital content resources and taking advantage of its dimensions for an overall improvement of the core value of China's digital publications and international communication of digital publishers.
Thirdly, new international channels for building cross-border platforms. The international online publishing channels should be greatly extended by implementing the Channel Expansion Project for International Marketing of China's Publications, cooperating with global and regional large-scale chain bookstores and their online stores, and integrating marketing networks and channels for overseas Chinese publications. By building cross-border delivery platforms for digital content resources and implementing overseas marketing plans including online bookstores, the international market for China's publishing industry will be exploited based on online-offline integration.
Fourthly, new supportive policies for creating a favorable environment. China has promulgated a series of policies and regulations in recent years, offering institutional security and favorable conditions of policies for deepening reform on cultural system, speeding up growth of publishing and media groups, and promoting the publishing industry to go global. The key point of policy innovation in the following stage lies in stronger creative power of enterprises, financial support for going global and integration between publishing and science and technology. In addition, stronger financial, taxation and capital support should be specially emphasized. Publishing enterprises should be encouraged to enhance their overseas publicity, presentation and promotion, or to set up publishing institutions overseas through joint venture, cooperation, buying shares, holding shares and acquisition, and individuals be encouraged to invest or establish export-oriented publishing enterprises for cultivating and enlarging international market. It's particularly noteworthy that publishing enterprises, during their process of going global, should be encouraged to operate by trial and error and decide on their own in capital input and market decision-making.
Fifthly, new talent mechanism to be more internationally focused. Problems concerning both introduction and cultivation of internationally-focused talented persons should be thoroughly solved by new mechanism for introducing, cultivating and employing export-oriented talented persons. Enterprises are supported to determine their ways of introduction and cultivation of internationally-focused talented persons based on their business development and personnel requirements. Teams of internationally-focused talented persons familiar with overseas publishing services and capable of cross-cultural management should be developed gradually by making bold use of local talent resources.
Sixthly, new development path for enlarged market space. The former arrangements of going global targeting developed and neighboring countries should be adjusted by consolidating markets in Europe and the U.S., developing neighboring markets, while exploiting markets in big emerging economies and in cultural circle of less-commonly-used languages. Since these countries and regions are powerful in economic growth, energetic in cultural demand, and more enthusiastic in learning and using Chinese culture for reference, it creates objective conditions for communication of Chinese culture and a good opportunity that we should never miss.
Seventhly, new development strategies for higher localization. A long-term, stable cultural exchange is achieved only by localized publishing based on capital operation, and the key to such localization lies in internationally-focused, well-known brands of publishing enterprises. In view of this, we should be determined to carry out in-depth reforms to address the segmentation problem by creating a batch of brand names comparable to transnational publishing groups at an accelerating pace and further integrating international publishing resources, so as to make China's publishing industry stand at the forefront of the global market.
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