China’s entertainment industry opens its door to the world

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Relaxed investment laws and the carefree spending habits of China's burgeoning middle class have meant foreign entertainment operators are now looking to mainland China with wide eyes.

It was recently announced by the Chinese government that the investment threshold in the entertainment and cultural industry would soon be relaxed to allow for more private and foreign interests. And then there's the massive successes being enjoyed by hotel and casino operators in the Special Administrative Region of Macau, in southern China - now officially the gaming capital of the world.

Add to those facts the astonishing success of last year's Beijing Olympic Games and the redevelopment of the capital's entertainment districts, and the US$45 billion (€30 billion) makeover currently going on in Shanghai before it hosts next year's World Expo, and you can see why mainland China is looking like such an attractive option for the entertainment world.

Norman Gosney is one person to have already made the move. A veteran of the "New Vaudeville'' (or "Burlesque'') scene in New York, he has opened the aptly named Chinatown ( club in a disused 1931 Buddhist shrine in the Hongkou District, just three blocks from Shanghai's famous Bund waterfront.

"New York is not the bastion of Bohemia it was in the 1980s and 1990s, and we wanted fresh turf to sow our seeds - and Shanghai is certainly the city with the most promise at this time,'' he told Relaxnews.

"Shanghai has an energy at this time, equal in volume, but very different in its nature, to London in the 60s, and New York in the 80s. Things will come together here that would not in any other city at the present.''

Chinatown's all-singing, all-dancing cabaret-style show is a first for Shanghai, claims Gosney, and he agrees the market in China now is open to limitless possibilities - and problems are being offset by working in "the world's biggest new market for sales and services.''

Hong Kong's Allan Zeman would certainly agree. Famous for establishing the Lan Kwai Fong district as his city's premiere entertainment district, Zeman is now also looking north - and to the city of Chengdu, the capital of the southern Sichuan Province.

"On my first trip there I was impressed that virtually every restaurant and bar was packed,'' he told the South China Morning Post newspaper recently.

Zeman said the Chengdu project would be a role model for another venture in Guangzhou, just over the border from Hong Kong, noting that as China's economy grew so did the nation's spending habits.



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