China and the Creative Economy: The New Shape of Social and Cultural Transformation
Leeds, UK - Creativity has become a hot topic on China. Concepts such as creative nation, creative city and creative century are endorsed in policy statements within the 11th Five Year Plans of many Chinese cities.
No-one denies that China is undergoing unprecedented economic development. Productivity is
assured by low cost labour. Companies from the developed economies are competing to outsource
production to the Mainland. However, is China a creative nation? While scarcely an important issue
for most researchers and journalists, creativity has become a hot topic on the Mainland. Concepts
such as creative nation, creative city and creative century are endorsed in policy statements within
the 11th Five Year Plans of many Chinese cities.
How did ‘creativity’ come to China so suddenly? Why has it been embraced so enthusiastically? In
2006 cultural creative industries received the green light from the national government. However,
the momentum had been building in China’s cities. Disused manufacturing factories had
transformed into creative clusters (chuangyi jiju) and creative precincts (chuangyi yuanqu): spaces
like Beijing’s 798 Factory, Hangzhou’s Loft 49, Shanghai’s Tianzifang, and Chongqing’s Tank Loft.
In 2006, Shanghai established the John Howkin’s Institute for the Creative Economy.
But why are these developments important? What do they signify for the way we (in the West)
understand China? What role will creativity play in regenerating enterprise and regulating informal
work practices? What does this new direction mean for international cooperation?
Dr. Michael Keane is a Senior Research Fellow within the Australian Research Council Centre of
Excellence in Creative Industries and Innovation (CCI) at Queensland University of Technology,
Brisbane, Australia. His research interests include creative industries internationalization and
innovation in China, audio-visual industry policy and development in China, South Korea, and
Taiwan; and television formats in Asia.
Michael is author of Created in China: the Great New Leap Forward (Routledge Curzon, 2007). This
is a study of China’s creative economy and how television, animation, advertising, design,
publishing and digital games are reshaping traditional understanding of culture. Michael Keane’s
most recent co-authored book (with Anthony Fung and Albert Moran) is New Television,
Globalization and the East Asian Cultural Imagination (Hong Kong University Press 2007). This is a
major study of the evolving landscape of television in China, Hong Kong SAR, South Korea, Japan
and Taiwan. Also in 2007 he will publish TV drama in China: Unfolding Narratives of Tradition,
Political Transformation and Cosmopolitan Identity (with Ying Zhu and Ruoyun Bai eds.: Hong Kong
For more information please contact: Professor Justin O’Connor