China fact of the day

I remain disappointed by how our media underreport the news from China. Here is one possibly major development:

China will kick off reform of its publishing system by transforming the country’s publishing houses from public service institutions into business-oriented enterprises, an official from the Regulations Bureau of China’s Press and Publication Administration (CPPA), who wished to remain anonymous, told Interfax in an interview.

All publishing houses in China, except for the People’s Publishing House, will undergo this reform. The People’s Publishing House, meanwhile, will remain a public service institution. China currently has approximately 527 publishing houses, of which 20 to 30 are private enterprises. Most of these private publishers are engaged in publishing books.

“An experimental batch of publishing houses has been selected and their reshuffling and reform will be finished by the end of 2004,” the CPPA official explained. “Related information will not be publicized before the publishing system reforms are completed.”

Here is yet some further good news:

According to China’s WTO obligations, the retail book market will be open to foreign investment without any restriction after December 1, 2004. Foreign investors will have the final say in investment proportion, business fields and sales locations. Private investment will also be encouraged.

Here is the full (albeit brief) story. No, I don’t expect Chinese censorship to go away, but many restrictions are easing:

In 2003, the Party ordered reform for the whole cultural system. Some magazines and newspapers were no longer offered government and Party support to aid in distribution and revenue earning. As a result, over 600 newspapers and magazines folded, with some 400 more still facing challenges.

Here is more on opening up the Chinese publishing market. Milton Friedman, of course, was right to point out the strong connection between economic and political freedom. Here is a previous installment of “China Fact of the Day.”


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