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Reading to get new push in law

2013-08-14 13:44:03

(China Daily) By Mei Jia


China is planning to include fostering the habit of reading in its law.

Officials from State General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television report that "reading for the whole nation" has been listed in the State Council's 2013 legislative plan.

After an investigation and a study of established practices in foreign countries, a working team has drafted a preliminary Regulation on Reading Promotion, which is expected to be official by December.

The news has triggered hot discussions. Some questioned the necessity while more are in favor of the plan, on condition that the regulation can be followed by sound and practical actions that take into consideration the country's rural and urban differences.

Lin Dan, founder of Yourbay Family Reading Libraries, says she's excited about the possible new regulation and hopes it leads to more reading by children and teenagers.

"We know that German people give a reading list to every one of their newborn infants," Lin says.

Similar reading promotions are seen in the US, Japan and European countries, some of which are driven by the countries' top leaders.

Wu Shulin, the administration's deputy director, believes it's important to promote reading because "the relevantly small input will yield great value to society".

Wu quotes President Xi Jinping, who has said that "reading should be one of the everyday norms".

Wu says reading is valuable not only to develop the economy but the culture.

Although e-reading brings new accessibility, Wu says, the citizens are still not reading enough. Surveys show Chinese people are either too busy to read or having difficulties in locating a public reading place, as the number of bookshops is shrinking and public libraries are insufficient.

According to a recent survey by the Chinese Academy of Press and Publication, Chinese people between the ages of 18 and 70 read an average of 4.39 books in print during 2012. A survey by UNESCO shows an average Russian reads 55 books a year, while an American reads 21, a Japanese 17.

The academy's survey also shows that 70 percent of Chinese are counting on the local government for activities that promotes reading.

Back in March, during the Communist Party of China and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference's yearly sessions, Wu, also a CPPCC national committee member, said reading should be a national strategy. His proposal received support from 115 CPPCC members and they signed to jointly present it.

Their plan includes setting up a national organization to promote reading and cover aspects like the design, content, places, services and support for national reading campaigns.

Veteran publisher Nie Zhenning also calls for designating Sept 28, Confucius' birthday, as National Reading Day. Nie suggests organizing reading volunteers to further the campaign.

The country started promoting reading officially in 2006.

But the administration hopes to get more support from legislation to tackle existing problems such as a lack of continuity and impetus at different levels. It also hopes the potential regulation will make achievements in promoting reading as one index to assess governmental performances.

The administration says in the coming months it will invite more advice from other ministries and comments from the public on the draft regulation before it's finalized.

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