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Chinese “micro reading”is not good enough

Editor: 佟昕欣 丨CCTV.com

04-24-2016 09:05 BJT

By Wang Jie, doctoral supervisor and professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee

April 23 marks the 21st World Reading Day and the tenth anniversary of a “national reading campaign” launched by the Chinese government.

Since 2014, the “national reading campaign” had been written into China’s “report on the work of the government” three years in a row.  In 2015, it proposed to “build a scholarly society.” 

It’s only until earlier this year that the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of China issued “the notice of carrying out national reading campaign work.”

Chinese reading culture has long been a hot issue.  Prior to the World Reading Day, the Chinese Academy of Press and Publication (CAPP) published the 13th National Reading Survey on April 18.

The report found that the average Chinese reader had read more books since launching the campaign. 

According to CAPP, in 2015 the average Chinese reader had read 4.58 paper books and 3.26 e-books per year, and the average adult reader read 7.84 paper and electronic books annually, which is an increase of 0.06 in contrast with 2014.  

Yet, newspaper and magazine readership had dropped.  The Internet had developed so fast that digital reading has gone beyond the limits of time, place and environment to become much more popular.

The survey showed that Chinese digital reading had risen seven years in a row and had exceeded 60 percent of all reading methods for the first time, among which mobile phone reading grew fast.

In 2015, 60 percent adult mobile phone users had read e-books, which is a 8.2 percent rise from 2014.  The average daily reading hours also surpassed one hour for the first time.

51.9 percent of Chinese adult readers used Wechat to read in 2015.  That number stood at 34.4 percent in 2014. 

Among all reading types, Wechat reading is growing the fastest. Over 80 percent of people surveyed used Wechat 2.67 times a day to read with an average reading time - 22.63 minutes.

China has entered the era of “micro reading.”  However, it triggers problems such as “fast reading”, “shallow reading”, “entertainment reading”, and “reading fragmentary stuff filled on the screen.” 

Wechat reading (sounds like “micro reading” in Chinese pronunciation) features in highly mobile, fragmentary, and social-oriented, and is difficult to go deep, which is hardly “reading.”

China is an ancient country with the longest tradition of a reading culture.  Yet, the fast growing economy has also made the pace of life go faster so people could only read quickly at a superficial level, instead of reading patiently through a book.

When adults and kids are busy Wechatting, updating friends’ circles, doing “like” and delivering “money envelopes”, the paper media is losing its reading market. 

In 2015, printing editions, sales, and revenue of newspapers and magazines had continued to plummet, and bankruptcy notices kept coming from this industry.

China’s physical book stores, newspapers and magazines face serious pressures for survival.  If “micro reading” represented by Wechat reading continues on, it will not only change Chinese reading styles but impact Chinese thinking modes and living habits.

Reading is the primary way for a nation to develop its spirit and to inherit its culture, and is an important source for national cohesion and innovation.

How to lead the Chinese from “micro reading” to “deep” reading has become an urgent issue for our society.  No matter what kind of reading a reader does, it is only when they can read patiently and go deep in a book for knowledge, can the Chinese cultivate a higher level of civilization.


( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )



Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

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