Children illustrate their own comic books at an international animation fair in Shanghai. (File photo/Xinhua)
Tencent, the Chinese internet giant known best for developing popular instant message service QQ, may team up with Disney to begin building a mature animation industry in China.
The Chinese firm plans to develop an animation business based on its online games before extending into music, film and merchandise. The company is currently in talks with Disney on collaboration, reports the Shanghai-based First Financial Daily.
Industry insiders say the deal could accelerate the development of China's animation industry. Although the Ministry of Culture has said the production value of the country's industry has exceeded 47 billion yuan (US$7.4 billion), many are not convinced by the raw figure, as the quality of animation produced in the country remains poor.
The country has not formed a robust industry as most of its firms are small. Only a few companies have so far been successful in operating solely on income generated from animation.
This may be in part because the world's two largest animation producers — the United States and Japan — earn most of their revenue from merchandise, not copyrights. China, however, has few solid brands that can be sold convincingly outside of animations themselves. As part of its effort, Tencent has signed a deal with renowned comic artists, including Taiwan's Tsai Chih-chung, to increase original content.
Tencent vice president Cheng Wu said the company will create online games adapted from the work of Tsai and others to form the beginnings of a comprehensive animation and comics industry in China.
Tsai Chih-chung 蔡志忠
Cheng Wu 程武