Morningside Launches English Version of Chinese National Geography

Reaching a Global Audience, the Magazine Fits the Government's Desire to Promote China Overseas

By Published on .

SHANGHAI ( -- M Media Group launched an English-language edition of Chinese National Geography late last month, becoming one of the first non-news Chinese publications to seek a global audience.

The international edition will include in-depth articles about China's geography, history and culture and is aimed at foreigners who either live in China or are interested in the country and overseas-born Chinese who want to reconnect with the land of their ancestors.

The bi-monthly title is aimed at 25-to-35 year-old readers. A four-color full-page ad costs $8,500, according to the publisher's media kit. Brands advertised in the debut issue include Siemens, Air China, Canon and Omega.

The magazine will be distributed to subscribers and retailers across China and Asia/Pacific this year with an initial print run of 93,000. M Media will expand distribution to Europe and the U.S. by 2010. The cover price is 45 RMB ($6.60).

M Media Group, a Hong Kong-based company owned by the Morningside Group, also publishes the Harvard Business Review China.

The launch addresses "an important gap in the market," said Melvyn Goh, M Media's CEO in Shanghai. "China's continuing rise to economic prominence in our present day has not been matched by a similar growth in the understanding of the Chinese people, and culture."

The Chinese-language version of Chinese National Geography started in 1949. A local-language edition of Chinese National Geography was launched in Taiwan in 2001. The following year, a local-language edition started in Japan.

China's print industry has expanded significantly in the past 20 years, encompassing more subjects and improving rapidly in both quality and circulation. Over 9,600 periodicals are now published in China.

"Despite this success, the number of outstanding publications that have successfully expanded overseas is still very small," said Shi Feng, President of the China Periodicals Association in Beijing.

China is eager to change that. Earlier this year, China's government committed at least $6.6 billion to expand the international presence of state-controlled media companies such as national broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV); the official state-run news agency Xinhua; People's Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party; and the Shanghai Media Group.

China's bid to create a global media power base started in, but the effort was ratcheted up last spring, when the torch relay for the 2008 Olympic Games became a touchstone for western anger at China's involvement in Tibet. There was a groundswell of feeling among party leaders (as well as Chinese citizens) that coverage of Tibet in western media is unfair and one-sided, with a bias against China.

M Media has not received government funding to publish Chinese National Geography but the project has been welcomed by the magazine's Chinese publisher, the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research. The institute was formed under the directive of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which is controlled by a political organization, the State Council of China, and the Geographical Society of China.

"We have not benefited from government grants at this point. However, we certainly hope to receive some help in the form of grants from the Chinese government to help us in the mission of 'bringing China to the world.' After all, we are promoting a product that originated from China 60 years ago," Wendy Yong, Singapore-based general Manager of CNG Media International, told AdAgeChina. CNG Media is the division of M Media Group publishing Chinese National Geography.

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