China's Creative Industries: Concerntration and Performances

Annual Conference of the Chinese Economist Association, Cambridge University, April 2008

27 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2010 Last revised: 12 Sep 2012

See all articles by Zhen (Peter) Ye

Zhen (Peter) Ye

Coventry University London; The University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Date Written: April 1, 2008


China’s creative industries are currently undergoing a period of rapid transformation. Since 2006, the Chinese governments at various levels have promulgated over 25 piecemeal regulations and directives to encourage creative industries and the development of specific creative cluster such as animation. Although creative industries are widely publicized by the Chinese media, most academic discussions and policy recommendations have not been the subject of rigorous economic analysis.

This paper aims to understand the state of China’s creative industries by drawing on empirical findings which for the first time examine patterns of concerntration and performance in China’s cultural and creative industries. It first discusses the classification of creative industries in China and compares China’s classification with Britain and the US in order to shed lights on their differences. The study utilizes a database which contains financial performance matrix of 523 x 523 clusters in China. By combing these data with GIS analysis, the paper explores the concerntration of creative industries in China’s 31 provinces and municipalities. Detailed analysis follows to examine the financial performance of 19 creative clusters in China. The performance indicators, drawn from Du Pont systems, help to identify the pillars of creative industries in China and their performances.

New findings emerged from the analysis point to the limitations of current approaches in the classification and policy formulation for creative industries in China which did not reflect sufficiently China’s comparative advantage in manufacturing. It is further argued that rather than confining creative industries to a few, arbitrarily selected metropolises, the government needs to broaden the geographical coverage of creative industries to consider greater cultural diversity and avoid cultural and ethnocentrism in the making of public policy. Empirical analysis further reveals that creative clusters located in less developed border regions and the provinces of the hinterland have equal potential to develop, henceforth, a more balanced strategy towards industrial development is needed for the planning of creative clusters. A mentality for change and new ways of thinking by the local government are crucial. With insight gained from the research about the performance of creative industries, Chinese regions and industries can, indeed, becoming less reliant and dependent upon heavy industries development strategy which put stress to the already fragile, ecological environment and natural habitats of the west and central regions. Based on the assessment of performance matrix, the paper further discusses the implications for setting industrial and public policies for creative sector. Although the development of creative industries present potential to the Chinese government in tackling energy shortage and stricter pollution control, China, however, needs to pay more attention to the protection of intellectual property rights which remains a major hurdle for the sustainable development of creative industries.

Keywords: China, Cultural Industries, Creative Industries, Concerntration, Performance, Clusters, Public Policy, Classification, Comparative Advantage

JEL Classification: L80, L82, L83, L84, L86, L88, L89, L50, L52, L53, L22, L25, Z10, Z11, Z19, H11, O14, O18, O25, O38,

Suggested Citation

Ye, Zhen (Peter), China's Creative Industries: Concerntration and Performances (April 1, 2008). Annual Conference of the Chinese Economist Association, Cambridge University, April 2008, Available at SSRN: or

Zhen (Peter) Ye (Contact Author)

Coventry University London ( email )

University House
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United Kingdom
+44(0)2072473666 (Phone)
+44(0)2076574346 (Fax)


The University of Chicago Booth School of Business ( email )

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Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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