Legislation to encourage reading

Updated 2017-04-03 09:00:28 Xinhua

The Chinese government has publicized a draft ordinance promoting “reading for all,” to solicit public opinion, a move to create better reading habits among the population.

Realizing the importance of reading in national strength, China has gradually raised “reading for all” as a national strategy.

The call for a love of reading among all the population appeared in an array of important government and Communist Party of China (CPC) documents, including the report at the 18th CPC national congress and the government work reports delivered at the annual parliamentary session over the past four years.

There are still problems, however, which need to be resolved with the legislation, such as a lower reading rate compared with the world's major countries, inadequate and inequitable public resources, and mixed quality of reading materials.

A national survey by the Chinese Academy of Press and Publication showed that Chinese read 3.26 e-books and 4.58 paper books on average in2015, compared with an average of 16 books in Europe and the United States.

Many major developed countries have already resorted to legislation to boost reading.

The United States introduced the Reading Excellence Act in 1998 and the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002. The Republic of Korea and Japan have also introduced laws to promote reading.

The draft ordinance, released by the Legislative Affairs Office of China's State Council, states that governments at or above county level should incorporate reading programs into their economic and social development plan, as well as their annual budget.

It encourages schools and academies to open their libraries to the public, and calls on brick-and-mortar bookstores to reserve reading space and organized reading for customers.

In addition, poor, remote and border regions, as well as those inhabited mainly by ethnic minority groups are expected to get special support under the draft.

With more funds, more libraries are now available, and the law should breathe life into the nation's reading habits.

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