New proposals at two sessions seek to safeguard China’s online literature
Shielding creativity
Published: Mar 05, 2023 09:26 PM
Zhongshuge bookstore in  Southwest China's Guizhou Province Photo: VCG

Zhongshuge bookstore in Southwest China's Guizhou Province Photo: VCG

One of the main forces of Chinese culture going global, online literature now faces some problems thanks to its rapidly growing market share. However, the situation may change. During the globally-watched two sessions, proposals to combat internet piracy and other issues are being put on the table. 

The first session of the 14th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) kicked off on Saturday. Yan Jingming, a member of the 14th CPPCC National Committee and vice-chairman of the China Writers Association, shared his proposal concerning "Copyright protection" for China's online literature with the Global Times.   

New solutions 

Yan is only one of many CPPCC National Committee members at the two sessions to call for enhanced protection measures for Chinese online literature. 

Against the backdrop of Chinese government's regulations such as the 2020 special operation "Jian Wang 2020," which targeted internet piracy, Wu Yiqin, another member of the 14th CPPCC National Committee, told the Global Times that management of online literature piracy has entered a "new phase" that needs new solutions. 

The implementation of "black and white" lists is part of Yan's proposal to monitor potential copyright violations. 

He called for providing white list protection to legal content providers and blacklisting those platforms that host pirated content. 

He further highlighted that the supervision list that includes different monitoring subjects should be updated regularly based on information gathered from China's major online literature platforms such as the and the 

The lists can benefit writers like Jian Wu Xiu. The writer's fantasy novel Hai Shi Di Qiu Ren Hen (lit: The Brilliant Earth Men) was a hot hit collected by 150,000 readers on 

However, the work was hosted by Bi Qu Ge, a notorious pirate website that disguises itself as a legitimate site. 

To catch the infringer, the writer told the Global Times he would get at midnight to publish a pseudo chapter to confuse the pirate, who normally kept an eye out to steal his works as soon as they were published. 

"I won't bend down to piracy. I'll be here to defend my rights and endure," Jian said. 

Online literature writers like Jian Wu Xiu are often the victims of piracy. 

This has later inspired Wu to call for "avoiding increasing costs for copyright's owners," while "increasing punishments for pirated novel apps." 

"The low costs of infringement and high cost to protect one's lawful rights are known problems," Wu told the Global Times.

Wu added that since online literature works are often pirated across the country, there should be provisions for assisting authors so they do not have to run around to different courts. 

Geng Cong Xin, an online literature writer who has also suffered from copyright infringement, told the Global Times that apps, websites, search engines also have a critical role in shielding those creators' rights. 

The writer once reported copyright infringement to, China's biggest search engine. Yet the reporting mechanism was "extremely complicated."  

The reason for this is that these platforms currently play a "passive" role in the matter.  

Cui Guobin, director of the Intellectual Property Law Research Center at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times that network service providers often wait for copyright owners to send in requests before acting on piracy. 

Yet this has to be changed. Both Yan and Wu have called for service platforms to enhance their "sense of involvement." 

Hu Yanan, an experienced lawyer, told the Global Times that services platforms should play a more positive role in "filtering out pirated content." 

Making progress 

The new proposal is based on valuable experience summarized from years of efforts in regulating online creative industries. 

In 2020, a special operation called "Jian Wang 2020" was launched to combat online piracy across multiple fields such as music, online literature, film and TV. More than 720 cases of piracy were handled during this operation. 

Since then, online literature has improved in China, while also swiftly expanding to overseas markets. 

A report in 2021 reveals that the overseas influence of Chinese online literature has expanded to regions such as Southeast Asia, North America, Europe and Africa. 

Yan told the Global Times that in 2021 Chinese online literature made a profit of 2.90 billion yuan ($420 million) in overseas markets, an increase of 75.32 percent year on year. A total of 314,600 Chinese online literature works were exported in 2021.

This growing overseas influence inspired him to call for the formation of organizations to help online literature companies and individuals defend their rights abroad and speed up the adoption of a consensus on intellectual property protection in overseas markets. 

Coping with limitless cultural differences, Wu called for the industry to ally with the AI and big data sectors. Jiang Shengnan, another member of the 14th CPPCC National Committee, said that artificial intelligence should also be used to assist problem-solving, but noted that the technology can never replace writers' "power of creation." 

Online literature has brought fresh vitality to efforts to spread Chinese culture and has become an innovative carrier of "telling Chinese stories and spreading China's voice" amid the backdrop of intensified global cultural competition, Yan noted.