The Middle Kingdom lusts after Japan's slot in the animation universe.
When it comes to animation, China wants to be the next Japan.
Long envious of its Asian neighbor’s success with anime, China is nurturing homegrown cartoonists and animators and encouraging them to produce films of their own. With the blessing of the country’s Ministry of Culture, provinces and municipalities are staging contests, festivals and conferences, all aimed at getting homegrown talent more exposure -- and some badly needed attention on the international stage.
The holy grail is theatrical, TV and especially home entertainment distribution contracts in the United States that played a key role in helping anime break out of its native Japan and become a true international phenomenon in the early 2000s. ...
Of course, to become a worldwide phee-nom, one needs infrastructure (not a problem), a flexible, high-energy talent pool (also probably not a major deal), and product that will sell like gangbusters around the world. (We'll see how that works out.)
There's no question that China has a monster internal market to consume its own animated output, but how well it does as A) an international animation sub-contractor, and B) an international player producing home-grown theatrical and television cartoons that sell like hotcakes in Dubai, Denver, Denmark and St. Petersberg remains to be seen.
American features and television shows have been globally dominant since the 1920s. Much of the world has less than warm and fuzzy feelings about the United States, but most of it buys into American culture, otherwise Sly Stallone -- now at retirement age -- wouldn't be topping the international box office. For China to become a dominant player, it will need to sell its national sensiblity as well or better than the United States (with its cultural salad bowl) has done over the past century.
And that's a tall order. Even Japanese anime, as successful as it's been, is still pretty much a niche product in the world marketplace.