Foreign newspapers to
be printed in China?
NewspaperDirect, Inc. the world leader in digital print-on-demand
newspaper distribution, announced this week that it has signed
an agreement with Beijing Founder Easiprint Co. Ltd. (Founder),
a part of the $3-billion revenue (USD) Founder Group, which
will enable, for the first time, foreign newspapers to be
printed in the People's Republic of China. The agreement provides
Founder with distribution and printing rights throughout China
for all NewspaperDirect's hundreds of print-on-demand newspaper
Both companies see the agreement as an important step in opening
the country to foreign media, especially in the run-up to
the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Starting in August 2006, NewspaperDirect
and Founder will be providing overseas business people visiting
or living in the world's fastest-growing economy with same-day
access to their favourite newspapers.
Through this agreement, Founder Easiprint's
rapidly growing chain of over 200 franchised print shops in
China will be authorized to print any of the titles published
by NewspaperDirect's publishing partners. These titles include
The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los
Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune (USA), The Times, The Daily Mail,
Daily Telegraph (UK), Le Monde, Le Figaro (France), Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany), Neue Zurcher Zeitung (Switzerland),
Mainichi Shimbun (Japan), The Globe and Mail and National Post
..."For publishers this provides an exciting
opportunity to be in at the ground floor of foreign newspaper
distribution in China. The country is visited by many more foreigners
each year, and they will now be able to receive same-day, digitally
printed copies of their favorite daily newspapers.
"We are excited by the opportunity to
partner with NewspaperDirect to print and distribute the world's
press in China," said Mr. Qi Degui, General Manager of
Founder Easiprint Co., Ltd. "We are honored to be the first
company allowed to print foreign newspapers in China."
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First Book in English
Printed in China.
Worldcat shows three English titles printed by P.P. Thoms in
1815 in Macao and Canton and nothing earlier:
A dictionary of the Chinese language. Macao : Printed at the
East India Co.'s Press, by P.P. Thoms, 1815-1823.
Translations from the original Chinese. Canton : Printed by
Sanyoulow, or, the three dedicated rooms : a tale translated
Chinese. Canton, China : Printed by order of the select committee,
the honorable East India Co.'s Press, by P.P. Thoms, 1815.
The Current Status of the Chinese Printing Industry
the original news
After entering the new century, especially
after its entry into WTO, China has maintained a high speed
in economy and social development. In 2003, China's GDP exceeded
11.6 trillion RMB (approximately 1.4 trillion US$), an increase
of 8.5% over the previous 2002. The volume of import and export
exceeded 851 billion US$ and foreign direct investment reached
53.5 billion US$, up 37% and 1.4%, respectively. China's national
foreign-exchange reserves reached 403 billion US$, an increase
of 40% over the past year.
Overall national strength has increased remarkably.
With the development of economy, culture, press & publication
and foreign trade and with the improvement of living standard
of the people, huge and diversified market needs have been created
for all sectors of printing industry, including publication
printing, package printing, commercial printing and other types
of printing. In 2003, about 190,000 kinds of books, 9,165 kinds
of magazines and 2,000 kinds of newspaper were published. About
4.5 trillion valued products for domestic market and 430 billion
US$ valued products for overseas market have to be packaged
and printed. This, together with other printing demands, provides
a huge market for the printing and packaging industries. By
2005 the growth will be compounded year-on-year by a minimum
of 40% per year up to at least 2010.
By the end of November 2003, the total number
of graphic arts and printing enterprises reached 163.600, including
92,400 printing houses and 71,200 reprographic shops. And the
total employment reached 3 million. Among the 92,400 printing
houses, about 9,950 were engaged in publication printing, 31,300
in package printing and the rest 51,150 in other printing sectors.
Among those 92,400 printing enterprises, state-owned enterprises
are 7,000,collective enterprises are 24,000, foreign invested
and joint venture enterprises are 2,200,limited and joint-stock
enterprises are 17,000,private enterprises are 36,000 and others
are 6,200. In 2003, the total production value of printing industry
was about 220 billion RMB(and that for export was 30 billion
RMB), equivalent to about 27.5 billion US$,accounting for 2%
of China's total GDP. The average printing production per capita
was approximately 21 US$. The momentum will be to grow at a
minimum of 40% compounded year-on-year.
1. Characteristics of Chinese Printing Industry
Over the Past Few Years
(1) While the government is pushing hard in
building laws and regulations and in strengthening supervision,
the industrial policy gradually opens up. As a result, the market
environment has been further improved.
In July 2001, promulgated by the State Council
was the new 'Regulations on Printing Industry Administration',
which stipulates that the Press and Publication of Administration
of China (PPA) is the only government body for administering
and supervising graphic arts and printing industries in China.
Since then, PPA and other related departments have drawn a number
of follow up policies and regulations, such as 'Temporary Regulations
on Ownership of Printing Business'. 'Temporary Regulations on
Setting Up Foreign Invested Printing Enterprise'(which allows
foreign investment in packaging printing sector), 'Regulations
on Accepting and Producing Printed Products', 'Guidelines on
Annual Inspection and Ratification of Printing Enterprises'
and etc. These policies and regulations have constituted a new
framework of law system for the printing industry. The concerned
department and local government followed up and published policies
favourable for development and investment.
In 2002 and 2003, the long lasting administrative
examination and approval systems of 'Special Enterprise Permission
for Establishing Printing Business', 'Special Enterprise Permission
for Individual Engagement in Printing Business' and 'National-
and Provincial-specified Enterprises for Book and Magazine Printing'
were terminated one after another. Central and local government
departments conducted nationwide powerful campaign of rectifying
the printing market and cracking down illegal activities in
printing, such as illegal publications, fake and inferior label,
mark, package, paper of certificate and etc. The Government
increasingly places emphasis on the role of industrial associations
and organizations, while intensifies self-discipline and faithful
service in the industry. The market becomes more regularized
and ordered, and lawful operations are ensured and protected.
All these efforts have worked to drive the industry in the health
and ordered direction.
(2)The industry maintains a dynamic momentum
in development with the very fast growing economy and culture.
Some provinces in relatively developed areas
have already grown up as large provinces of printing, while
pushing hard on their way to the goal of strong province of
printing. Some of them place the printing industry in the position
of urban industry in their long term development planning and
adopt favourable policies for developing the industry. In recent
years, the printing industry has become the `second` largest
industry in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, with more
than 4,800 printing houses, 40,000 employees and an annual industry
turnover of 30 billions HK$.
Hong Kong's printing industry is now in a strategic
move to north (the direction toward the mainland) and about
70 % of Hong Kong's printing enterprises have already moved
their productions to or invested joint ventures in the mainland
of China. Taiwan's printing industry is also on its way of drift
to west (the direction toward the mainland) and about 400 Taiwanese
printing enterprises have already been relocated in the mainland.
Besides these two steams, printing enterprises in other nations
are also looking for their fortunes in Chinese printing market.
The export growth for the China Printing Industry is a major
strategy for many of the established Print organisations.
Thanks to the developed economy in some coastal
areas, the strong momentum brought about by the reform &
opening-up policy and China's acquisition of WTO membership,
regional printing industrial zones are taking shape rapidly.
Two regional printing industrial zones have been formed and
growing rapidly in Zhujiang River Delta and Yangtse Rive Delta
areas, respectively. Zhujiang River Delta, being centered in
Guangdong province, is in neighbour with Hong Kong and Macao
and is recognized as the World Sixth City Circle, while Yangtse
River Delta is centered in Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces. In
these two areas, printing enterprises are relatively large in
scale, armed with advanced technologies and equipment, and the
total sales income accounts for 3/4 of the national ones. In
Bo Hai Economic Area as represented by Beijing and Tianjin cities,
printing industry is also on the track of fast growing. With
the progress of the Great West Development as well as reconstruction
of the old industrial bases in northern China, printing industry
in western provinces, especially in Sichuan and Shanxi provinces
and also in northern area of China will gain new momentum in
(3) Introduction of overseas capitals into
the Chinese printing industry has been very greatly accelerated.
After China's successful acquisition of WTO membership, the
government newly approved 170 printing enterprises with foreign
investments flowing in from 2002, and the total investment exceeded
1 billion US$. Currently, the country already has 2,200 foreign
invested printing enterprises, most of them are clustered in
the coastal line areas, about 1,600 in Guangdong Province (in
which 90% are of investments from Hong Kong) and 200 in Shanghai.
Zhongshan City, Guangdong Province, as an example.
It is a city in neighbour with Hong Kong and Macao, and well
known as the Town of Oversea Chinese (because of the fact that
most of the households have relatives either living in foreign
countries or being returnees from overseas). There are more
than 1,300 printing enterprises, among which, 70 enterprises
are of foreign investments. China Packaging & Printing Production
Base was nominated and set-up in that city. The base occupies
a land of 5,000 mu (equivalent to 333 hectare) and has 35 packaging
In 2003, the total industrial production in
the base exceeded 6 billions RMB. Another example is Heshan
Astros Printing Ltd., which is invested independently by Hong
Kong company (with a registered capital of 1 billion Hong Kong
dollar), occupies about 65 hectares' land, has 180,000 square
meter constructions, 40 sets of large format sheet-fed colour
off-set presses and 10,000 staffs. And, the annual production
value reaches 2 billion RMB and all the products are exported
to overseas market. Printing enterprises cited above are characterized
by large scale, high-tech, advanced equipment, diversified products
and good performances. And high profit is another typical feature
of these companies, which is believed to be brought about by
cooperation among the clustered enterprises in the base. Excellent
people training programmes and the use of business models are
a major importance to the Chinese business culture.
American R R Donnelley invested and built printing
operations in Shenzhen and Shanghai, which have already been
running commercially. Toppan Printing Co., Ltd., Japan, is planning
to invest 90 millions US$ to set up a large-scale packaging
printing and ink manufacturing enterprises in Shanghai with
its Chinese partners, after successfully landed a large printing
company in Shenzhen 10 years ago. NIPPO Printing CO., Ltd. and
Nishiguchi Printing CO., Ltd., Japan, successfully landed in
Beijing and Shanghai few years ago. Asian Packaging Centre named
by the World Packaging Organisation and approved by the former
State Economy & Trade Committee has settled in Hangzhou
City, Jiangsu Province.
Also, the construction is already started under
a planed investment of 10 billion US$. China South International
Industrial Materials City, occupying 1.5 square km lands and
with 2.2 million square meters' constructions, is jointly invested
by 5 Hong Kong based companies, i.e., Carrianna Group, Man Sang
Group, Kin Hip Metal & Plastic Factory Ltd and Luk Ka International
Ltd. The total investment was 2.6 billion RMB. These movements
provide a good platform for the Chinese packaging printing industry
to enter and play in `international markets` under the trend
of economy globalisation, while the huge and fast growing printing
market in western China renders a new territory to foresighted
investors abroad and inside the country. The global trading
environment is a major strategic tool for the China Printing
(4) Transformation of traditional printing
industries by using high-tech has made breakthrough. In 1980s,
the industry widely adopted the more advanced technology based
on computerised laser typesetting and offset press, after eliminated
the elder 'Hot Process' based on metallic type and casting,
which had been in use for more than one and half century. This
was marked as a historical jump for the industry. As a result,
technological level of the industry was greatly improved. Some
printing enterprises even started to build information management
network and carried out enterprises resource planning and business
reorganisation. This greatly improved business operation and
increased the whole management and core competitiveness.
In recent two years, initiated has been a new
round of revolution, as exemplified by the widespread use of
CTP, digital colour proofing, commercial web-fed press and sheet-fed
8 colour perfect off-set press. Now, CTP installations have
already exceeded 250 sets nationwide. Import of commercial web-fed
press maintains a dynamic momentum and about 100 sets have been
installed and started commercial operation. Recently, Komori,
Mitsubishi, Akiyama International and Heidelberg have released
sheet-fed 8 colour perfect off-set presses, targeting mid- and
short-run high-end market. This type of press has already gained
wide recognition and about 10 sets have already been ordered
or installed. China's printing equipment has been, therefore,
greatly improved and raised to a higher level.
In the publication printing sector, off-set
printing accounts for 90% of the total market and in package
printing sector, off-set, gravure, flexography and silk printing
account for over 40%, 25%, 8% and 55, respectively.
(5) Structural reform of the industry has also
made great progress. Within the current 92,400 printing houses,
state-owned and collective enterprises take up 35%; limited
and joint-stock companies, foreign invested enterprises and
joint ventures take up 21%; private enterprises take up 40%.
Coexistence of different types of enterprises is now a new structural
pattern of the industry. Reform of stated-owned printing enterprise
also shows new progresses. Some non-state-owned printing enterprises
have also successfully conducted internal reform.
(6)With the constant growing of the industry,
printing education shows new flourish. Right now, there have
been about 12 universities and institutes (including departments)
that offer graphic arts related programs, with over 16,000 full
time students registered in the undergraduate and associate
programs and more than 3800 full time students registered in
the postgraduate programs. This is the most booming period of
time for higher graphic arts education in China.
Beijing Institute of Graphic Communication,
the School of Publishing & Printing of Shanghai University
of Science and Technology, the School of Printing & Packaging
Engineering of Xian University of Science and Technology, the
School of Journalism & Communication of Wuhan University
are well known, because of their long history of involvement
in graphic education and quality curricula. These schools, along
with some new comers over the past two years, have already prepared
and delivered tens of thousands graduates of various types to
the industry, having greatly improved the knowledge structure
and the quality of human resources of the industry. In addition,
vocational education and training of various types have also
Japan Association of Graphic Arts Technology
(JAGAT) and European Funding for Asia Investment have down a
lot of work in supporting continued education for Chinese printing
industry and already achieved very good results. In comparison
to the European model of very little training and investment
plus very few people entering the Printing Industry the Chinese
Printing Industry will have no issue with the rest of the world
in taking on new business as there will be very little competition
in the future.
When judged from a different angle, the great
achievements, which have been made by the industry, are diluted
to a very low level by the huge population of 1.3 billions of
this country. For example, the annual average paper consumption
per capita is 33 kg and the annual printing production per capita
is about 21 US$, only about 1/10 of that in developed country.
As stimulated by China's entry into the WTO,
the global manufacturing industry is accelerating its strategic
shift to China. Compared with this movement, the reform of the
printing industry seems to be lack of power and depth, and has
a long way to go. This frustrates the industry from gaining
all-sided, coordinated and sustainable development, in the following
ways: The implementation of market mechanism by printing industry
is lag behind;
(1) Weak points still exist in the administration
(2) Industrial structure is not rationalised,
leaving behind problems, such as, the weight of state-owned
economy is too large, while that of non-state-owned economy
is not enough; the number of small enterprises largely exceeds
that of large enterprises. According a survey conducted by 'Printing
Manager', an industrial magazine, the total production value
by the 100 top printing enterprises was 23.4 billion RMB, accounting
for only 11% of that of the whole nation's printing enterprises.
Production capacity for high-end printed market is inadequate,
while that for low-end printed market is in large surplus. Most
domestic printing enterprises are lack of competitiveness. In
R&D, no breakthrough has been made in printing related technologies
with the exception of that in Chinese processing technology,
when judged by the standard of technology originality which
leads to possession of intellectual property. A large gap in
development still exists between east and south;
(3) The reform of state-owned printing enterprise
is facing many challenges and difficulties, and still has a
long way to go.
But, the overall fact is the Chinese and other
investors are investing `big time` in people, training, technology,
machinery, business models and quality.In time, this will impact
on the rest of the world!
2. Chinese Printing Machinery and Materials Industries
The sustained and rapid development of China
printing industry has greatly stimulated the machinery, equipment
and material industries.
In China, mid- and low-end printing equipment and materials
are already self-supplied, and part of domestically made products
are now even exported to overseas market, while the high-end
printing equipment and materials still rely on import.
Printing Machinery:Right now, there are about
500 printing press manufacturers in China. In 2003, the total
value of production and export reached approximately 7 billion
RMB and 100 million US$, respectively, while annual import between
2001 and 2003 remained at the level of about 1.3 billion US$
(The data for 2003 was 1.345 billion US$). Apparently, the volume
of import largely exceeded that of export. Between 2001 and
2003, about 2,363 sets of sheet-fed colour presses were imported
and the total value reached 1.202 billion US$.
The data for sheet-fed in 2003 was 933 sets
and 507 million US$. Between the same period of time, about
539 sets of web-fed presses with a total value of 456 million
US$ were imported and the data for 2003 was 131 sets and 126
million US$. The total number of imported press was ranked world
three. There will be massive growth in Digital presses in the
future to be competitive with the world movement in demand printing.
Paper manufacturing:There are 3,500 paper manufacturers
all over the country with 780,000 employees (in which, foreign
invested enterprises are 280, taking up 8.1%, but occupy 30%
of the total sales revenue, profit and tax). In 2002, production
of paper and cardboard reached 37.8 million tons, an increased
of 18% over the previous 2001 and the total production value
reached 139.8 billion RMB,an increased of 16% over the previous
year, while imported paper and cardboard reached about 6 million
The industry consumed 43.32 million tons of
paper and cardboard in 2002 and the consumption per capita was
33kg. In detail, for publication printing, about 12.85 million
tons of paper was produced, an increase of 32% over the previous
year, while 14.17 million tons of paper were consumed, an increase
of 33% over the previous year and imported paper reached 1.36
million tons; for newspaper printing, about 1.85 million tons
of paper were produced, while 2.04 million tons were consumed
and 190,000 were imported; about 1.8 million tons of coated
paper were produced, while 2.76 and 1 million tons were consumed
and imported, respectively;about 9.2 million tons of uncoated
paper were produced, while 9.37 million tons and 170,000 tons
were consumed and imported, respectively.
Ink:Currently there are more than 400 ink manufacturers.
In 2002, the total production volume of ink was more than 220,000
tons, with more than 50 kinds of product and more than 1,000
different colours, and the sales revenue was 4.6 billions RMB.
China have gown up to be the forth largest ink manufacturer
in the world (U.S.A: 1.12 million tons per year;Japan: 470,000
tons per year; Germany: 370,000 tons per year) .
PS Plate:PS plate is one of the rapidest growing
industries in China. Through severe competition,the degree of
optimised and efficient production is rapidly increased. According
to a survey conducted over 30 PS plate manufacturers,the production
capability has already reached 100 million square meters per
year. In 2002, about 80 million square meters were produced
and sold,an increase of 30% over the previous year and in 2003,
90 million square meters were produced. In 2002, about 9.72
million square meters' PS plates were exported,an increase of
32% over the previous year, while 3.19 million square meters'
PS plates with a total value of 13.44 million US$ were imported.
In recent years, one of the features in Chinese
printing machinery and material industries' development is to
combine scientific research, manufacturing and application into
a integrated system and to build 'macro' industrial chains with
Chinese characteristics. The printing machinery industry has
made pronounced progresses in capital operation, developing
new product and extending industrial chains.
In 2001, Shanghai Electronics Group Cooperation,
in cooperation with an American company, successfully purchased
the good asset of Akiyama, Japan and sent people to chair the
newly formed company: Akiyama International. After the first
year's successful test operation, its new product of sheet-fed
folio perfecting multi-colour press won gold medal in 2002 Shanghai
Industry Expo and gained wide recognition among experts and
users in Dongguan Industrial Show (Guangdong Province) in March
2003. It is the first time that a Chinese company purchased
a global company of a well known brand, accepted its personals
and made successful re-entry into the global market. An article,
which appeared in Washington Post, said that the newly built
Akiyama International was a great expansion.
Adopting OEM mode, Beiren Group Cooperation,
the largest printing press manufacturer in China reached agreement
with Tokyo Shuppan Kikai (TSK) on putting Beiren's brand on
TSK's postpress equipment for sale in Chinese market. Recently,
Beiren established another joint venture with Gun Ze Business
Corporation, Japan, to produce automatic paper stacker used
in newspaper printing, and reached consensus on CTP cooperation
with Creo, Canada. Shanghai Printing & Packaging Machinery
Co. Ltd. cooperated with American Fang Brothers Graphic Co.
to develop prepress equipment. All these projects work to extend
the industrial chains and will bring new business opportunities
to the printing machinery industry.
In the recent two years, there has been an
apparent move for foreign printing material manufacturers to
invest in building factories in the mainland of China. This
is widely accepted as part of their strategy of localisation.
For example, AGFA and KPG have successfully set up operations
in Wuxi and Tianjin to produce high quality PS and CTP plates,
respectively. In Wuxi, Agfa has built a PS production line with
the capability of producing 25 million square meters per year.
Fuji Film has established a joint venture,
Fuji Starlight Co., Ltd. in Beijing, with Chinese Academy of
Printing Technology (CAPT) to produce high quality PS plate
and CTP plate. Over the past few years, a number of overseas
paper manufacturers, such as those from Indonesia, Finland and
Taiwan area, have built up factories in Jiangsu Province, Zhejiang
Province, Shanghai Municipal City and etc. For example, January
2004, Shanghai Light Industry Group Corporation signed agreement
on a paper project for news paper printing with Sinar Mas Group(Indonesia),
one of the global paper giants. The project, with a total investment
of 20 billions RMB, occupying a land of 2500 mu (equivalent
to 163 hectares) and with the ultimate production capability
of 2 million tons of paper per year, is aiming at creating a
paper producing base in Shanghai and will be completed in 4
Sinar Mas Group already takes 1/3 of the paper
market in China and is heavily engaged in forest cultivation
in Hainan, Guangxi and Yunnan provinces, in an attempt to create
a circumstance of balanced paper production and forest protection.
Several Japanese and Switzerland ink manufacturers have set
up joint ventures successively in Tianjin Municipal City, Shenzhen(Guangzhou
Province), Shanghai Municipal City, Hangzhou(Jiangsu Province),
Guangzhou(Guangzhou Province)and Shanxi Province. Japan Meiji
Gum Co. Ltd. has set up a blanket factory in Shanghai.
In short, the localisation of global material
manufacturers has consolidated their production and business
bases in China, gradually making the local market internationalised.
The localisation of overseas material enterprises have apparently
been progressing at a much faster pace than the machinery enterprises.
This is an issue worth of study.
The Chinese Printing Industry, like all there
industries will stick to `opening-up` policy all the time. Even
if one day, the printing machinery and material industries have
grown up, we still need to introduce and absorb advanced technology,
equipment and material, and to improve technology structure
of the industry and quality of all products.
I hope the rest of the world take on board
the same policies as the Chinese, if not, the Chinese will win
the world market place.The world `Industries` need to train
people of `any` age and use their skills and experience as do
the Chinese train `all` people who wish to work and have the
Viewpoint: China becoming printer to
the world Read
the original news
By Andy Mukherjee
Last year, Remi Marcoux, chairman of Transcontinental,
the Canadian printer of Harry Potter books and Time magazine,
went to China. What he saw of his rivals there impressed him.
"The biggest advantage Chinese printers
have is their very low prices," Marcoux said at a business
gathering in Montreal in October. "A press operator, for
example, earns $1,000 a year, whereas here the salary would
"We came back to Canada with two conclusions:
That we would encounter increasing competition from China in
some segments of our industry; and that the most vulnerable
activity for Transcontinental is book printing."
So will China become the world's printer? In
some ways, it already is: from Daikin Industries's air-conditioners
to Dell's personal computers, the user manual for every conceivable
consumer product selling anywhere in the world is increasingly
being printed in southern China, close to where most of these
goods are assembled.
Yet when it comes to printing books, journals,
company annual reports and other high-value documents, China
is just beginning a journey that will see it emerge as a serious
outsourcing destination. Printers with the savvy to invest now
in China may reap rich rewards.
R.R. Donnelley & Sons, the largest North
American printing company, opened a factory in China in 2002.
It now offers publishers the option to use
its network in China for any job that involves extensive manual
work. Some of its clients, such as World Book, the publisher
of the World Book Encyclopedia, like to print in China in order
to cut the cost of reaching final customers in the Asia-Pacific
For books targeted at the U.S. market and requiring
quick schedules, Mexico still remains the top outsourcing location.
That may change with consolidation in China's
fragmented industry, which has more than 94,000 printers. Most
of these are state-owned, a legacy of communist control of the
Following China's 2001 entry into the World
Trade Organization, foreign publishers are allowed to print
in China for export. The Chinese government still maintains
strict control on books distributed locally. Only Chinese publishers
may cater to the domestic market. All foreign books sold in
China go through them. This restriction, which does impede the
growth of the Chinese printing industry, will not change in
Ideology, however, will not be able to keep
China's printing industry stunted forever. Market forces will
not allow it.
The big push is coming from the world of money:
Chinese companies are forecast to raise $55 billion in initial
public offerings this year, according to JPMorgan Chase.
A large Chinese IPO requires a few million
application forms to be printed, not to mention anything between
5,000 to half a million copies of a prospectus. Industrial &
Commercial Bank of China, which sold shares simultaneously in
Hong Kong and China in October, issued a 656-page prospectus
in English and a 369-page offer document in Chinese.
Executing such complex, time-critical projects
requires scale. Financial printing also needs sophisticated
customer service, which a small Chinese printer, used to churning
out propaganda booklets for the local government, cannot provide.
That is where investors like K.K. Fong, the
chief operating officer of Xpress Holdings, a small Singapore-based
financial printing company, have big ambitions.
Through acquisitions and strategic tie-ups,
Fong has over the past two years created a seamless nationwide
production network where graphic artists in Singapore prepare
the designs and the layouts. These can then be printed in Beijing,
Shanghai, Shenzhen, Chengdu or Hong Kong.
Using this model, Xpress has come to control
75 percent of the Chinese market for printing financial research.
Clients include UBS and Citic Securities, China's biggest publicly
Xpress last week announced a 51 percent jump
in profit in the six months ended Jan. 31. That came on top
of a 170 percent surge in net income in the previous year. To
further raise its presence in China, the company is now opening
FedEx Kinko- type stores to accept walk-in corporate orders.
Another impetus to the growth of the printing
industry in China will come from corporate governance.
At present, some commercial lenders, which
are required by the Chinese central bank to publish annual financial
reports, get away by printing 10,000 copies even when they have
more than 250,000 shareholders.
The Shanghai Stock Exchange, on which 937 securities
are listed, may soon make it mandatory for all publicly traded
companies to distribute annual reports to all shareholders.
Putting ink on paper is the easiest part.
Where China needs to go up the value chain
is in the stage before a document is printed. That is also where
the real profits are, says Sam Chong Keen, the Singapore-based
chief executive officer at Xpress.
Transcontinental's Marcoux says his company
has a permanent competitive advantage in being close to customers.
"The biggest enemy of Chinese printers is time," he
True, using a factory in China to reprint a
few hundred copies of a best- selling book in the United States
may not make commercial sense today. But if costs of both technology
and transportation keep falling, China's labor- cost advantage
may emerge as the dominant force in this industry, just as it
has in many others.
China may yet become the world's printer.
storms the printing market
FRANKFURT (AFP) ！ China's economic expansion is fast making
it a force to be reckoned with in the publishing world, exhibitors
at the world's biggest book fair said Wednesday as it opened
China's strength is its printing works and it has increased
its presence at the Frankfurt fair by 30 percent this year in
search of more business from international publishers, organisers
Southern China has become a printing stronghold after companies
there spotted a market opening and moved quickly to improve
their quality, often dispatching people to learn about the industry
"Printing is more and more a question of cost and China
has just taken off," said Manuele Bosetti from Hong Kong-based
Media Landmark Printing, which does all its printing in southern
"In the beginning, the quality really was not there but
they are smart at their job. They came and learnt from the Italians
and not in everything, but in some ways they are matching the
China Printing Corp., China's oldest state-owned printers,
said the general economic boom meant it was suddenly facing
stiff competition from a host of private printing works.
"We are absolutely trying to expand our market and business
is very good but as the market has grown so big, we are facing
a lot of competition," said the printing house's Qing Wei.
She said China's success in the market was a simple question
"Printing books in Europe and in the United States is
expensive. We are cheap and our quality is good," Qing
The decade-old private competitor Hengyuan Printing Co., which
is based in Guangzhou with a workforce of 600, said it was very
aware of the need to keep up quality standards for clients in
France, Italy, Spain, Russia and South Africa.
A representative of the company, Stephanie Chen, proudly showed
off a French-language edition of the cartoon cat Garfield, with
a pink, printed ribbon running across the cover.
"They come to us because we can do this. We have to be
very careful and if we cannot do something to the standard required
or within the deadline, we would rather turn it down,"
Hengyuan can handle print runs of 5,000 books and deliver to
Europe within three to five weeks, she added.
The printing house's stand here is full of glossy, high-resolution
coffee table tomes on anything from vintage cars to chateaux
in France, where it has scored contracts with Editions Moliere,
Hugo and Editions de Lodi.
The state is quite happy to have a host of private printing
rivals, Chen said. "It is a really free market, we are
French publishing house Groupe Fleurus' Mango division, which
specialises in children's books, said it was increasingly commissioning
Chinese printers to handle editions with complicated illustrations
"It is becoming common to send books that require a lot
of detail and are therefore very costly to produce, to China.
The prices are in another realm. And we have no problem with
the quality," Mango's Marion Girona said.
The president of the Spain's publishers' association, Antonio
Maria Avila, said half of the books that Spanish houses produce
for the Spanish market in the United States, are now printed
"Fifty percent of these books are printed in China. They
are often shipped straight from there to San Francisco,"
he told AFP.
"The reason is very simple -- it is much cheaper."
The Frankfurt fair will host China as its special guest of
honour in 2009.
Meanwhile, a massive row erupted over its decision to choose
the culture of Catalonia as this year's guest.
Leading Spanish-language authors like Carlos Ruiz Zafon and
Javier Cercas are boycotting the fair because they were initially
not invited to represent the region, which is stirring with
The fair, which features more than 7,000 publishers from 110
countries, runs until Sunday.
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