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Animation industry 'still lagging'

By Tang Zhihao (China Daily)

13:28, May 07, 2012

A costume play attracted thousands of visitors to the 8th China International Cartoon and Animation Festival. The country's largest annual animation fair concluded on Thursday in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.[Photo/China Daily]

The animation and cartoon industry is booming in China but experts say there is still a long way to go before it will make a big impression on the international market.

A total of 260,000 minutes of animation material was produced in the country in 2011, an increase of 18 percent from 220,000 minutes in 2010, according to the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television. The growth is almost twice as much as the increase in China's gross domestic product last year of 9.2 percent.

However, experts said the gap between Chinese and foreign markets remains huge and the domestic development is not only constrained by lack of talented and creative people but also the absence of a complete industrial chain.

"We have seen significant growth in quality and quantity of the made-in-China products. However, there is a long way to go to before the nation can take a strong role in the international market," said Jin Delong, director of the publicity management department at the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television during the 8th China International Cartoon and Animation Festival.

The festival is the largest of its kind in China and involves seminars and exhibitions. It is held annually in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. This year's event ended on Thursday.

"Many products can be further improved in terms of content and design. Currently we have very few products that qualify as special. Many are mediocre," Jin said.

In 2011, the cartoon and animation industry garnered a revenue of 60 billion yuan ($9.52 billion). In contrast, the sales reported by Walt Disney Co reached $40 billion last year.

Experts said the lack of a complete value-making chain has become problematic for Chinese animation and cartoon makers seeking profitability. Currently, many companies expect profits to come from broadcasting.

"Animations and cartoons enjoy high market demand and have a longer life-cycle (than films). However, they require high capital investment, high operating risks and a longer production and manufacturing process," said Jin. "Companies will find it hard to survive if they only charge for broadcasting fees. There should be a complete industrial chain to achieve better development."

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