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Online literature works read overseas, revealing power of Chinese creativity

Global Times| Updated: May 29, 2023 L M S

The 2023 China International Online Literature Week kicked off in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province on Saturday. Information released at the event shows that there are more than 150 million fans of China's online literature worldwide.

A "development report" examining Chinese online literature's growth in Asia was highlighted at the event. The report showed that Chinese online literature's overseas influence is mainly centered in Asia. Readers in South Asia make up the largest demographic group, accounting for around 40 percent of overseas readers. 

Zhang Yiwu, a professor of Chinese language and literature at Peking University, told the Global Times that this particular market segment is the most "stable" when it comes to Chinese online literature overseas. 

According to the report, readers in Asia readers 35 years old and younger are the main supporters of Chinese online literature, within which Generation Z fans are the main backbone. 

Li Yilun, an online literature industry insider, told the Global Times that young fans' appreciation for Chinese online literature "co-exists with Chinese  online literature's diversity of mediums."  

Paper books, translated digital versions and literary IP adaptations are the three main channels for Chinese  online literature productions heading overseas. 

Seeking to cater to Generation Z's digital fluency, more studios are adapting Chinese online literature into TV and film productions. The King's Avatar: For the Glory, a film adapted from internet writer Hudie Lan's The King's Avatar, is set to debut in Japan in July. 

Prior to the film's adaptation, the IP accumulated more than 130 million readers since its debut on online platform WebNovel in 2017. 

"Such a successful adaptation could only be achieved when the 'cooperative production line,' which includes creators and distributors, are tightly connected and operate smoothly," Li noted, adding that China's "mature online literature industry" is an exemplar for global  online literature development. 

Taking WebNovel, an overseas-targeted Chinese  online literature platform as an example, it has readers in more than 200 countries and regions around the world. Besides countries in Asia, the US is another reading spot that has numerous fans of Chinese  online literature.

"This shows that Chinese online literature's excellent industry set up has the power to reach out to English-speaking countries," Li noted. 

On Sunday, the China Writers Association, which is the 2023 CIOLW's main organizer, revealed that by the end of 2022, more than 16,000 Chinese  online literature works had made their way overseas. 

Hou Xiaonan, executive director of the top online platform China Literature Limited, told the Global Times that "Chinese online literature no longer just belongs to China, but is also shared by the world." 

"Countless writers have used Chinese imagination to allow hundreds of millions of overseas readers share our stories, while also bringing the spirit, values and power of China to the world," he noted.

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