Chinese Official: No Plans to Allow Private Book Companies to Engage in Publishing (story in Chinese)

September 15, 2004

According to a report carried on the People's Daily website, on September 9 Liu Bo, Director of the General Administration of Press and Publication's Publication Distribution Administration Department, told representatives of several privately run book companies with publication distribution rights that Chinese authorities would not allow privately owned enterprises to establish book publishing houses any time in the next few years.

Director Liu also said, however, that while state-owned publishers that convert to an enterprise structure will not be allowed to accept foreign investment, they will be allowed to accept domestic investment. He suggested that private book companies could be shareholders in such entities and use this method to "get their foot in the door" to obtain the right to publish.

According to the People's Daily article, Liu Bo said that in the future there would be five significant reforms to “cultural structures”:

  1. Party publications and "important" publishing houses would continue to be state-run institutions.
  2. The publications of most social and cultural government units and most publishing houses would be converted into enterprises and be allowed to accept social investment from domestic state-owned and private sources.
  3. Xinhua Bookstores will list a majority of its shares on a stock market.
  4. "Social welfare" publishing units will not be allowed to adopt shareholding structures, or accept outside capital or social funding.
  5. During these cultural reforms there will be increasing assistance and guidance from private enterprises.

China's government places severe restraints on book publishing. To illustrate these restraints the CECC has prepared a flow chart that shows the administrative barriers authors must overcome before they can publish in China. The CECC has also prepared summaries of Chinese laws and regulations that restrict freedom of expression in China. In light of these factors, the actual impact (if any) that China's plans to reform publisher ownership structures will have on individual freedom of expression remains to be seen.