The Influence of China’s Foreign Cultural Trade Continues to Increase

In the past two decades of the new century, China has seized the important strategic opportunity period of development and continued to deepen reform and opening up. China’s economy has achieved a huge take-off, and its comprehensive national strength has reached a new level. “Improving the national cultural soft power” is not only a strategic focus of country’s cultural construction, but also an important part of strategic thinking in building a harmonious world, and an important prerequisite for the realization of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
  The development of foreign cultural trade is an important way to enhance Chinese cultural soft power and enhance the influence and competitiveness of Chinese culture. The development of cultural industry is the main driving force for the promotion of cultural soft power and Chinese cultural industry has developed rapidly. From 2013 to 2019, the proportion of the added value of China’s cultural industry in GDP showed an increasing trend year by year. In 2013, the added value of cultural industry was 2,135.1 billion yuan, accounting for 3.63% of GDP. In 2019, the added value of China’s cultural industry was 4.1449 trillion yuan, accounting for 4.18% of GDP. In 2019, Chinese culture and related industries above designated size achieved operating income of 8,662.4 billion yuan, an increase of 7% over 2018, maintaining steady and rapid growth. In terms of industry categories, in 2019, the operating income of 9 industries in China’s culture and related industries achieved growth. Among them, there are 3 industries with a growth rate of more than 10%, namely: news information service operating income of 680 billion yuan, an increase of 23.0% over 2018; cultural investment and operation of 22.1 billion yuan, an increase of 13.8%; creative design services 1,227.6 billion yuan, with an increase of 11.3% over 2018. 

In terms of industry types, the cultural manufacturing industry achieved operating income of 3,673.9 billion yuan in 2019, an increase of 3.2% over 2018; the cultural wholesale and retail industry was 1,472.6 billion yuan, an increase of 4.4% over 2018; the cultural service industry was 3,515.9 billion yuan, an increase of 3,515.9 billion yuan over 2018. An increase of 12.4%. The cultural manufacturing industry and cultural service industry accounted for 42% and 41% of the revenue respectively. Among them, the cultural service industry has developed rapidly. In terms of different fields, in 2019, the operating income of cultural core fields was 5,047.1 billion yuan, an increase of 9.8% over 2018, accounting for 58%; cultural-related fields were 3,615.3 billion yuan, an increase of 3.2% over 2018, accounting for 42%. 

The development of “Internet +” and the digital economy has further stimulated the development of emerging media such as online live broadcasts and online games, and has continuously promoted the optimization and upgrading of China’s cultural industry structure and its high-quality development. The vigorous development of the cultural industry has continuously stimulated the potential of Chinese cultural export. By 2019, the total import and export volume of China’s cultural trade reached US$111.45 billion, 2.6 times the total import and export volume in 2008. Among them, the export value increased from 39.05 billion US dollars in 2008 to 99.89 billion US dollars in 2019. Imports increased from $4.25 billion in 2008 to $115.5 billion in 2019. $700 million. The overall growth rate of China’s cultural trade has stabilized. From 2008 to 2019, the average growth rate of China’s cultural trade exports and imports was 22% and 43%, both higher than the world average.



  China’s cultural trade import, export and balance from 2008 to 2019
  Although global economic growth has been weak in recent years, international trade has slowed down, and China’s foreign trade has generally faced downward pressure, China’s foreign cultural trade has generally shown a steady growth trend. In 2019, the total import and export of China’s cultural trade increased by 8.9% year-on-year. On the whole, China’s foreign cultural trade is still dominated by surplus, and the surplus shows a trend of continuous expansion. In 2019, the trade surplus was about 88.32 billion US dollars. Such a growth trend is inseparable from the Chinese government’s high emphasis on and strong support for accelerating the development of cultural trade after entering the second decade of the new century, as well as the rising cultural consumption of the Chinese people. On the one hand, the Chinese government has successively issued policy documents such as the Opinions of the State Council on Accelerating the Development of Foreign Cultural Trade, and subsequently Beijing, Shanghai and other cities have successively issued relevant policies to promote the rapid development of foreign cultural trade, focusing on work priorities, fiscal and taxation support, financial Detailed policies and measures have been formulated in terms of services and service guarantees. In June 2017, the Ministry of Commerce, the Central Propaganda Department, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and the State Administration of Radio and Television jointly launched the construction of 13 national cultural export bases, including Beijing Tianzhu Comprehensive Bonded Zone, Shanghai Xuhui District, and Wuxi City, Jiangsu Province.

In terms of cultural trade development, the home base includes not only administrative regions, but also economic and cultural parks. The focus of development includes not only the export of traditional Chinese culture, but also the export of emerging cultural fields. The construction of a national cultural export base is conducive to cultivating cultural enterprises with international competitiveness and forming an international cultural trading platform, innovating the development model and experience of cultural trade, promoting the high-quality development of cultural trade, and becoming an important implementation path for Chinese culture to go global. On the other hand, with the rapid development of China’s economy and society and the significant enhancement of its comprehensive national strength, the continuous improvement of residents’ living standards, income levels and material living standards has greatly enhanced residents’ spending power. The demand for cultural products that contain a country’s customs and can cultivate people’s sentiments is growing, and the content of cultural consumption is becoming more and more colorful. Coupled with the new online consumption mode of digital culture, the residents’ consumption experience and concepts are innovated, which greatly promotes the expansion of cultural consumption. In terms of quality and growth potential, in 2019, China’s cultural import volume increased by 17.4% year-on-year, and cultural consumption has become the “new main force” to promote the growth of the national economy.


  From the perspective of the global cultural trade import pattern, according to UNESCO statistics, since 2013, China has maintained the status of the world’s largest exporter of cultural products for many years. The market share of China’s cultural products trade occupies the forefront of the world, second only to the United States and the United Kingdom and other cultural trade powerhouses. The export market has become more diversified. The export of cultural products covers all countries and regions in the world, which has strengthened cultural exchanges and improved or connected people’s hearts. Thanks to the rapid development of the global cultural consumption economy, China has actively promoted the cultural “going out” strategy, enhanced cultural competitiveness, and improved the infrastructure construction of cultural industries. From the perspective of the global cultural trade export pattern, the Chinese government actively supports and encourages the import trade of cultural goods and services, but on the whole, China’s foreign cultural trade is dominated by surplus, and the surplus shows a trend of continuous expansion. In 2019, trade The surplus was about $88.32 billion. The import value of China’s cultural trade has been greatly improved, but the gap with the world’s major cultural import markets is narrowing, and the impact on the global cultural import trade pattern is increasing. The proportion of China’s cultural product trade imports in the global cultural product trade imports is on the rise, and it has entered the top 10 of all countries. The proportion of China’s cultural service trade imports in the global cultural service trade imports is also rising, ranking among the top 20 countries.


  From the perspective of the structure of China’s foreign cultural trade commodities, China’s cultural import and export commodities in 2019 show a differentiated development trend compared with 2018. In terms of export trade, in 2019, the exports of four categories of cultural commodities, namely publications, arts and crafts and collectibles, stationery, and cultural special equipment, were US$3.72 billion, US$31.73 billion, US$52.3 billion and US$12.14 billion respectively. , the year-on-year growth rates were 4.8%, 5.6%, 11.7% and 0.2% respectively. In terms of China’s foreign cultural trade imports, in 2019, the import value of four categories of cultural commodities, including publications, arts and crafts and collectibles, stationery, and cultural special equipment, was US$1.65 billion, US$3.68 billion, US$2.39 billion, and US$2.39 billion, respectively. US$3.84 billion, with year-on-year growth rates of 13.1%, 100.3%, 23.5% and -16.8%. 

The increase in import volume shows that Chinese consumers’ needs at the cultural and spiritual level have been greatly enriched and satisfied. Under the guidance of Chinese culture’s “going out” strategy, China’s foreign cultural trade has maintained a long-term trade surplus. Among publications, except for audio-visual products and electronic publications, which have a certain trade deficit, books, newspapers, periodicals and other publications are for the trade surplus. Among arts and crafts and collectibles, under the influence of the significant increase in the import value of collectibles in recent years, the foreign trade of collectibles is a trade deficit, while the arts and crafts are still in a trade surplus. Stationery, musical instruments, toys and other stationery, as well as special printing equipment, are mainly in trade surplus, and under the trend of increasing exports of these types of commodities, the trade surplus also increases.
  As China continues to promote its cultural “going out” strategy, China’s cultural soft power has been enhanced, China’s independent technological progress and innovation have continued to improve, the competitiveness of China’s cultural industry has improved, and foreign consumers have pursued high-quality Chinese cultural products. The quality of cultural products has been continuously improved, and more and more attention has been paid to connotative development, and the strategy of pursuing high-quality development of cultural product exports. 

In recent years, China’s cultural industry chain has been rising in the global industry chain, which has promoted the optimization and upgrading of China’s cultural trade pattern. At present, China’s cultural trade mode has formed a trade pattern dominated by general trade. In 2019, the total import and export of cultural trade by general trade was US$56.6 billion, of which the export value was US$50.3 billion, a year-on-year increase of 20.9%; the import value was US$6.28 billion, a year-on-year increase of 9.5%. The total import and export value of processing trade was 35.66 billion US dollars, of which the export value was 33.5 billion US dollars, a year-on-year decrease of 10.9%; the import value was 2.16 billion US dollars, a year-on-year decrease of 24.8%. In addition, with the increasingly active global cultural consumption market, foreign cultural trade mainly based on other trade methods has shown a trend of leapfrog growth. In 2019, the cultural export trade volume under other trade methods was US$1.65 billion, a year-on-year increase of 20.8%. The import value was US$3.13 billion, a year-on-year increase of more than 1.5 times.
  From 2013 to 2019, China’s foreign cultural trade is still dominated by developed countries and regions. Among the top 15 export markets for China’s cultural trade, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, The Netherlands and Japan are at the forefront; the top 15 import markets for China’s cultural trade are still concentrated in developed countries such as Germany, France, the United States and Japan. The scale of foreign cultural trade in countries and regions along the “Belt and Road” jointly built with China has gradually expanded, and foreign cultural trade commodities have been continuously optimized. After 2016, as world economic and trade growth moderated, the total foreign cultural trade between China and countries and regions along the “Belt and Road” continued to grow, from US$14.87 billion in 2016 to US$22.93 billion in 2019. Among them, the import and export trade volume was 2.59 billion US dollars and 20.3 billion US dollars respectively, and in 2019, the cultural trade exports and imports to countries and regions along the “Belt and Road” increased by 24.9% and 17.9% respectively. In 2019, in the category of cultural products import and export between China and countries and regions along the “Belt and Road”, the total import and export of publications was US$810 million, of which the export value was US$380 million, a year-on-year increase of 31.1%; the import value was US$420 million, A year-on-year increase of 109.4%. The total import and export of arts and crafts and collectibles was US$5.62 billion, of which the export value was US$5.25 billion, a year-on-year increase of 24.4%; the import value was US$370 million, a year-on-year increase of 25.3%. The import and export volume of stationery was 12.07 billion US dollars, of which the export value was 11.58 billion US dollars, a year-on-year increase of 35.7%; the import value was 490 million US dollars, a year-on-year increase of 730 million US dollars. The total import and export of cultural special equipment was 4.43 billion US dollars, a slight decrease from 2018.


  Cultural services belong to service trade. As China’s service trade has rapidly become a prominent spot in foreign trade, the development trend of China’s cultural service trade tends to grow upward, the trade structure continues to be optimized, and the quality of foreign cultural services continues to improve. Statistics from the Ministry of Commerce show that in 2019, China’s total import and export of personal cultural and entertainment services was US$5.28 billion, a year-on-year increase of 14.5%. Affected by various factors such as the new crown pneumonia epidemic, China’s total import and export of services in 2020 reached 4,564.27 billion yuan, a year-on-year decrease of 15.7%, but overall service exports in the whole year were significantly better than imports, the trade deficit was reduced, and knowledge-intensive service trade proportion increased. The growth rate of service exports in December 2020 was the highest in the year. China’s service exports were 231.62 billion yuan, an increase of 6.9%, the highest export growth rate in 2020. Among them, the export of intellectual property royalties was 7.94 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 76.6%; the export of personal cultural and entertainment services was 1.35 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 46.5%; in 2020, China’s knowledge-intensive service import and export was 2,033.12 billion yuan, an increase over 2019. 8.3%, accounting for 44.5% of the total import and export of services, an increase of 9.9 percentage points. Among them, the export of knowledge-intensive services was 1,070.14 billion yuan, an increase of 7.9% over 2019, accounting for 55.3% of total service exports, an increase of 4.6 percentage points over 2019; the areas with faster export growth are intellectual property royalties, telecommunications and computers. and information services, insurance services, increased by 30.5%, 12.8% and 12.5% ​​respectively over 2019. The import of knowledge-intensive services was 962.98 billion yuan, an increase of 8.7% year-on-year, accounting for 36.6% of the total service import, an increase of 11 percentage points; the areas with faster import growth were financial services, telecommunications computers and information services, which increased respectively compared with 2019. 28.5% and 22.5%.
  With the continuous improvement of China’s business environment and the increasingly sound legal system, China’s foreign cultural trade will maintain a steady development trend in the future, continuously stimulate cultural export capabilities, and enhance the international influence of Chinese culture.


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