LCQ8: Measures to assist publishing and printing industries
Following is a question by the Hon Mrs Regina Ip and a written reply by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, in the Legislative Council today (April 12):
Some members of the publishing and printing industries have relayed to me that since the reading culture among Hong Kong people is rather poor at present, they have encountered quite a lot of difficulties in operating book-related businesses in Hong Kong. They have pointed out that although the publishing and printing industries in Hong Kong can benefit from the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA), under which they can enter the Mainland market under a specified framework, they are still subject to a lot of restrictions and the room for development is limited. As a result, the sales volume of Hong Kong-published books on the Mainland is still on the low side. There are views that the Government should introduce more measures to promote the reading culture and assist the local publishing and printing industries in expanding their markets. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) as some members of the publishing and printing industries have pointed out that the book fair held in July each year in Hong Kong has become very popular among the general public, whether the Government will request the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, the organiser of this event, to reduce the participation fees collected from local exhibitors to enable local exhibitors to lower book prices, thereby promoting the reading culture and enhancing the cultural literacy of Hong Kong people; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(2) whether it will review the contents of CEPA in respect of the printing and publishing services, and discuss with the Mainland authorities the relaxation of the restrictions on publishing books on the Mainland by Hong Kong publishers (e.g. assigning an additional 2 000 International Standard Book Numbers to Hong Kong publishers each year) so as to help the industries further tap into the Mainland market; and
(3) whether it will encourage more secondary students to study the subjects of literature, history and philosophy and read relevant books with a view to promoting the reading culture; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
The Government's consolidated reply to the three parts of the question is as follows:
(1) The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC) organises the Hong Kong Book Fair (HKBF) every July. The exhibitor participation fee for a Hong Kong company has all along been lower than that of a non-Hong Kong company. There is also additional discount of participation fee if the exhibitor is a member of the HKBF's supporting organisations. Last year, 640 exhibitors from 33 countries and regions, including 468 Hong Kong companies, participated in HKBF and the Fair attracted 1.02 million visitors. In addition, TDC organised 360 concurrent cultural events in the HKBF venue, as well as collaborated with other organisations in organising over 260 citywide events under the month-long "Cultural July" campaign. All these events attracted over 300 000 attendees. TDC's efforts have helped promote reading among the general public.
(2) The Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) is a free trade agreement signed between the Mainland and Hong Kong, offering the most preferential treatment to Hong Kong goods and services when entering into the Mainland market. In respect of printing and publishing services, the liberalisation measures offered by the Mainland under CEPA are:
(i) To allow Hong Kong service suppliers to set up equity joint venture enterprises or contractual joint venture enterprises in the Mainland to engage in the printing of publications and other printed matters. For equity joint venture enterprises, the proportion of Hong Kong service suppliers' shareholding should not exceed 49 per cent. For contractual joint venture enterprises, the Mainland investors should hold dominant position in them. For equity joint venture enterprises set up in Qianhai and Hengqin on a pilot basis, the proportion of Hong Kong service suppliers' shareholding should not exceed 70 per cent;
(ii) To allow Hong Kong service suppliers to set up wholly-owned enterprises in the Mainland to provide printing and binding services for packaging materials. The minimum registered capital required for Hong Kong service suppliers to set up printing enterprises to provide services in respect of packaging materials follows the requirements applicable to Mainland enterprises;
(iii) To allow Hong Kong service suppliers to establish typesetting and production services company on a wholly-owned, equity joint venture or contractual joint venture basis in the Mainland to provide pre-press services such as proof-reading, design and typesetting for books;
(iv) To simplify the approval procedures for importing Hong Kong books and to establish a Green Passage for importing Hong Kong books; and
(v) To allow contractual service providers employed by Hong Kong service suppliers, in the mode of movement of natural persons, to provide services under this sector or sub-sector in the Mainland.
Under the existing laws and regulations of the Mainland, Hong Kong publishers cannot publish books in the Mainland and can only gain access to the Mainland market through copyright trading and import of books. The Government understands the wish of the local publishing industry to further develop the Mainland market. Based on the principle of respecting the publication-related laws and regulations of the Mainland, we will continue to discuss with the Mainland authorities to explore the possibilities of enriching and enhancing the content of CEPA in this regard with a view to facilitating trade and investment of the publishing industries in Hong Kong and the Mainland.
(3) Education Bureau (EDB) has been providing opportunities for students to learn literature, history and philosophy, and engage in reading related books through relevant secondary and primary curriculum, including Chinese Language, which is compulsory at primary and secondary levels; Chinese History, which is compulsory at primary and junior secondary levels; and elective Chinese History and Chinese Literature subjects at senior secondary levels. Up to now, 90 per cent secondary schools have been offering Chinese History at senior secondary levels. With regard to Chinese literature, EDB will strengthen the learning of Chinese literature in the compulsory Chinese Language curriculum, and continue to organise various kinds of literature-natured activities to cultivate an atmosphere conducive to learning literature, in order to enhance students' interests in Chinese literature and attract more students to study Chinese Literature. Moreover, the existing curriculum contents of language and history subjects, which involve the teaching of some Chinese and Western philosophers, such as Confucius and Socrates, can facilitate students to begin learning philosophy in their secondary education. Apart from curriculum contents, EDB will continue to capitalise on the diversified learning activities of the afore-mentioned curriculum, such as project learning, data study, etc., to enable students to read more related books to promote the reading culture on literature, history and philosophy, and enhance students' learning ability. In 2017, EDB will provide a one-off grant of $100,000 and $150,000 respectively to each public sector and Direct Subsidy Scheme primary and secondary school (including special schools) to support teachers of General Studies, Chinese Literature, Chinese Language and Chinese History to improve their teaching, produce learning and teaching materials, and organise student activities, etc., so that students will have more opportunities to learn literature, history and philosophy.
Ends/Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Issued at HKT 14:30