Report – China: Business & Partnerships

Posted on: Thursday 04 July 2019 12:45pm by Tim Collins

Doing business in China is entering a golden period – there appear to be more opportunities than ever before.   So what should we be looking for and how do we approach China?


  • China is a huge market, with over 360m children, including 180m pre-schoolers.
  • There is a projected animation spend of $34bn by 2021
  • China is investing in and creating IP and is actively looking for foreign partners.
  • The Department for International Trade, BFI and others can help with regulations, censorship, quotas on foreign content and IP protection.


The session started with a comprehensive scene setter from our host Louise from the DIT.   The UK Government is working very hard at our relationship with China and the recent co-production treaty is one of the first to be signed.     The key to a productive relationship in China is thinking long term and visiting the market – regularly.   Building personal relationships with your partner is essential.

China is the World’s second largest buyer of kids content after the US – shows from all over the world can find a home there, so it is very competitive.    China has no official funding system in place – all money comes from private business and individuals – many such as toy companies and other licenseesare involved in the circular business model.    China looks at IP not from a pure content perspective – this is a market very interested in monetising your brand – toys, books, digital, location based entertainment etc are all part of the 360 degree vision.

We discussed how a UK company finds a local Chinese partner.   You need a physical presence and local credibility. What’s your background in the UK, do you understand the market and its cultural nuances?   Chinese companies move fast – you need to hustle.

How do you meet potential partners? International and Chinese trade shows such as CICAF/iABC and Government missions are important to kick things off.   Work with people who know the landscape.

Getting a show produced for distribution in China can be done in a number of ways.   A quota system for foreign content exists. For example only 34 foreign movies can gain a theatrical release, so finding ways to work with local companies is essential.

If you have an official co-production with a Chinese company then the show is not part of the quota – it is still subject to censorship of course which may mean working closely with relevant officials to ensure any rules – written or not – are adhered to.

The new co-production treaty between China and the UK follows a deal China struck with New Zealand.   The amount of work undertaken in each jurisdiction is in proportion to the proportion of funding from each market, exact details can vary and the BFI can help navigate the system.   Permits are still needed to produce in China and another is required to sell the finished programme.

So China can be complex. But be committed for the long term, be used to spending time there and thinking big and acting fast will probably bear great rewards.   Good luck.

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Tim Collins

About the author

Tim Collins

The Brand Director, MD

Tim Collins has established The Brand Director Limited to advise and manage the development and expansion of your intellectual property into new products, services and markets to unlock new revenue streams. Tim has spent 20 years working for leading international entertainment and media companies including Universal Studios, HIT Entertainment, DreamWorks… Read more