The Pidu District of Chengdu Announces a 10-Year Science Fiction Plan

By Ersatz Culture: (Note: All the following text extracts are machine translations from Chinese, using a mixture of Google and DeepL tools.  Some minor manual edits have been made, but there are minimal attempts to try to decipher the meaning of terms such as “online carrier”, “brand inheritance” or the “Through the Wormhole” plan.)

The local government of the area where the 2023 Chengdu Worldcon took place has published a 10-year plan, which — amongst other things — indicates an intention to bid to hold the Worldcon again, within the next five years.

On April 8, the Jingrong Town WeChat/Weixin account posted the Pidu District Action Plan to Build the Chengdu Science Fiction Center.  (Pidu is the district on the western side of Chengdu, where the 2023 Worldcon was located, with Jingrong Lake being the body of water adjacent to the SF museum that was the venue for the event.)  This text of this article was also posted on the Pidu district local government website a couple of days later, with some additional opening text that is seemingly aimed at local government employees:

Notice on the issuance of the “Action Plan for the Construction of Chengdu Science Fiction Center in Pidu District (2023-2033)”

To district-level departments, streets (towns), and industrial functional zones:

The “Pidu District Action Plan for Building the Chengdu Science Fiction Center (2023-2033)” has been reviewed and approved by the 29th District Governor’s Office Meeting and the 31st Executive Meeting of the 19th Pidu District, Chengdu City, and is hereby issued to you. Please comply with it and implement it.

Chengdu Pidu District People’s Government Office

The plan comprises 24 items, split into eight sections:

  1. Overall requirements (items #1-3)
  2. Overall positioning (items #4-6)
  3. Implement the science fiction industry agglomeration project (items #7-9)
  4. Implement the science fiction technology integration project (items #10-12)
  5. Implement the science fiction branding project (items #13-15)
  6. Implement the science fiction business prosperity project (items #16-18)
  7. Implement the science fiction ecological construction project (items #19-21)
  8. Safeguarding measures (items #22-24)

Much of the plan seems to be about science and technology, rather than science fiction, so those items will not be covered here.  Furthermore, a lot of the text is also somewhat obtuse in terms of what exactly is being planned, which may or may not be down to the vagaries of machine translation.

However, there are some items which cover areas of direct relevance to File 770 readers and the wider fandom.  These are extracted below, with my highlighting in bold of the most relevant bits.

4. Focus on IP creation and introduction. Establish a science fiction IP creation center, using the Worldcon Metaverse as the online carrier and the World Science Fiction Master Village as the offline support, to collect original science fiction works, carry out training in screenwriting, writing intelligent tools, technology-enabled creation, and worldview licensing co-creation, capital docking, brand promotion and other services, and strive to create or introduce more than 2 Hugo Award-nominated works and 100 science fiction-themed IPs within 3 years.

6. Promote IP development and transformation. Establish a science fiction IP operation and transformation center to integrate the power of science fiction creators, technology research and development institutions, and science fiction operation teams, connect with investors, developers, producers, channels and other professional institutions, and promote top domestic and foreign IPs such as the Hugo Awards and the Galaxy Awards. Transform into products or scenes such as film and television animation, cultural and creative products, live entertainment, etc. Strive to sign and establish more than 2 Hugo Award IP blockbuster film and television dramas within 5 years, and develop more than 10 science fiction demonstration products and application scenarios with national influence.

13. Extend the brand effect of the Worldcon. Implement the conference brand inheritance plan, strive for authorization from the World Science Fiction Society, and continue to carry out ten parallel venues of the Worldcon, the World Science Fiction Industry Development Promotion Forum, the Future Choice of the Worldcon [presumably referring to Site Selection?], the “Hugo X” [aka “Discover-X”] Science Fiction Carnival, and the Worldcon Organizers Conference [referring to SMOFcon?].  A large-scale derivative international brand activity strives to establish the Worldcon Brand Protection and Communication Center, and strives to apply for the Worldcon again within five years. Implement the conference heritage reuse plan, prepare to build the 81st Worldcon Memorial Hall, collect and preserve the convention’s Hugo Award-winning works, trophies, audio and video, artistic creation and other resources, and continue to develop a series of cultural and creative derivatives based on the cultural IP of the Worldcon and Xingyun Award.

14. Enhance the city’s science fiction brand. Expand the brand influence of science fiction exhibitions, strive to host the Asia-Pacific Science Fiction Conference, host science fiction events such as the China (Chengdu) International Science Fiction Conference, and hold prestigious international and domestic science fiction awards such as the “Chinese Science Fiction Xingyun Award” and “Future Science Fiction Master Award”. Cultivate local science fiction exhibition brands, introduce well-known performing arts groups, science fiction enterprises, and professional institutions, focus on Tianfu culture, cutting-edge technology and other fields, plan and hold themed exhibitions such as the “Near Future” science and technology concept exhibition.  It will also develop and build the “Science Fiction Time and Space – Ancient Shu” theme, stage plays, music festivals and other special performing arts brands, and strive to hold no less than 10 industry-influential science fiction exhibitions and performing arts activities every year .

17. Build an international community system. Lead the establishment of science fiction alliances in colleges and universities, guide and support the establishment of science fiction associations in colleges and universities in the region, and explore the working mechanism of establishing science fiction associations in colleges and universities to export talents to science fiction enterprises. Gather sci-fi practitioners, innovate consumption discounts, customized services and other models, create interactive scenes such as parent-child gatherings, themed salons, business negotiations etc, and create a club for sci-fi practitioners. Create colorful fan communities, continue to operate the online space of the Worldcon, implement the “Through the Wormhole” plan, build a regular online communication space between domestic fans and core members of the Worldcon, and senior foreign fans; accurately cultivate unique IP communities, implement the “Stars and Sea” plan, rely on the new media matrix and offline science fiction space, and carry out classic IP promotion activities with one theme per quarter.

I had a cursory look at the Weibo accounts of some of the people on the 2023 Chengdu Worldcon concom, and couldn’t find any posts or comments referencing this plan.  It is certainly possible that there could have been posts around the time this plan was first announced in early April, but I’m a bit doubtful – this announcement only seemed to be picked up a couple of weeks later, in this SF Light Year Weibo post on the 24th.  There will be events at the Chengdu SF Museum over the weekend of 18-19 May – including the Xingyun Award ceremony – so perhaps some further announcements will happen then?

[The complete Chinese language graphic follows the jump.]


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37 thoughts on “The Pidu District of Chengdu Announces a 10-Year Science Fiction Plan

  1. I really do think it is time we baked into the WSFS constitution that proposed Worldcon venue nations have to meet a minimum standard democracy/freedom scores so we minimise the risk of brand hi-jacking (as seems the case here), or gender politics issues (as with some African and Middle East bids) among other concerns.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_indices

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_freedom_indices

    There are a range of freedom/democracy indices to choose from. There seems to be a clear divide between those proposed bidding nations of concern (plus the past China nation host) and other, past, Worldcon hosting nations

  2. Science Fiction industry? I had visions of steam hammers and blast furnaces.

    One thing that happened is that when China first started this, they were bad but not as bad as now. Yes, China has gone backwards in the arc of history bending towards justice. (I won’t mention any large North American countries in this regard) So what fandom saw when they first bid is different than what we have now. It will be interesting to see what happens at the business meeting in Scotland which is on an island that, thank you, believes in the rule of law and other very basic freedoms.

  3. To be honest, the plan is so big and huge that we can’t hope it can come ture.
    If possible, we should connect it with several other plans announced by local government.

  4. Science Fiction industry? I had visions of steam hammers and blast furnaces.

    The factories that once poured out raw space opera into molds to create giant busbars of pure hard SF, have been replaced by artisanal craftsfolk who use naturally sourced materials to create their various -punk and -core products. With the blockchain we can streamline the process and make bespoke SF works for the discerning consumer.

  5. The factories that once poured out raw space opera into molds to create giant busbars of pure hard SF, have been replaced by artisanal craftsfolk who use naturally sourced materials to create their various -punk and -core products. With the blockchain we can streamline the process and make bespoke SF works for the discerning consumer.

    twitch

  6. Considering that the Tianwen Awards quietly faded into obscurity and eventually disappeared, I’m doubtful that this grandiose plan will ever get off the ground. I also doubt that Chengdu will be able to get enough financial support, given their tight local finances.
    One interesting point in this report, though, is that the government is starting to use the Hugo Awards as an indicator of how well the government is doing.

  7. I see Metaverse and I’m out. Also China just established new laws where internet providers have to monitor and send anything “dangerous” users do to the government. Fun!

  8. Sounds like a…great leap forward for the “science fiction industry”. The focus on IP is a little ironic considering that historically they have played somewhat fast and loose with the concept.

  9. I somehow doubt the Hugo Awards cmte will ever allow another Hugo to be held in China, no matter what they have to do to prevent it.

  10. Ja: There isn’t a Hugo Awards committee. And at the moment the same rules environment exists that opened the way for Chengdu the first time.

  11. I can’t imagine even the most diehard supporter of taking Worldcon back to China after five years wants to see it return to the same location or be run by the same personalities.

    But Chinese fandom’s not going away. So read China’s rules and figure out how to do it better. Couldn’t Chinese and Western fans get together to establish a conrunning joint venture in Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, where rules for a conrunning-dedicated business would be flexible by design and you are allowed a good balance of partners? You could put strict limitations in its charter about what kind of Worldcon bids it may sponsor and have it launch a Shenzhencon bid for about five years from now. Surely the Shenzhen government with its innovation hub would be supportive of such an initiative.

  12. “Worldcon Metaverse” and “Worldcon Brand Protection and Communication Center” look like trademark violations.

    “81st Worldcon Memorial Hall” seems legitimate to me. It’s qualified to the Worldcon they ran. If they ever build the thing.

  13. If there’s a poll for whether or not to let them do this, I’m gonna vote “no”. They want to coopt the World Science Fiction Convention and use it as a megaphone for propaganda, I think that’s pretty clear. We can’t let them do that, and I support the idea of adding something to the charter that prevents them from doing it.

    I suggest targeting the method by which they did it last time, rather than targeting the ideological concerns directly. Ideology can be argued. Tactics, however, leaves a provable paper trail.

  14. At Chengdu, the Science Fiction Industry was not well defined. It was all things which could be related to SF. Manufacturing, science, technology, education, gaming, movies, books, etc. This seems to be an extension of that expansive view. As has been noted here before, there were a lot of deals cut including plans to bring Chinese fans and authors to future Worldcons.

    Will they call it Chenduo or Cheng2?

  15. strive for authorization from the World Science Fiction Society

    Strive. Big ol’ oog. What if striving fails, given that the listed plans depend on using the trademark?

  16. I can’t think of anything that can be done realistically about their use and/or abuse of the Worldcon trademark.

  17. “As has been noted here before, there were a lot of deals cut including plans to bring Chinese fans and authors to future Worldcons.”
    Did these deals involve the participation of people officially affiliated with Worldcon?

  18. What they’re talking about is an attempt to hijack world fandom for the purpose of national prestige. I can’t imagine it succeeding, but it could result in more unpleasant situations like the 2023 Hugos.

  19. That means we have maybe five years to get the control of the Hugos out of the individual committees to a standing committee so that this can’t happen again.

    Also, the MPC REALLY need to get rid of all those who had a role on last years fiasco. That they’re apparently allowing continuing use of the marks here is really bad news.

  20. “Worldcon Metaverse” and “Worldcon Brand Protection and Communication Center” look like trademark violations.

    Is the “Worldcon” trademark (service mark) registered in China? If not, it’s not a trademark violation.

  21. I am honestly surprised that people are surprised by this 🙂

    Remember our naïve thinking that the internet will bring freedom to less democratic countries? “Surely no one can stop the signal?” and prevent the free flowing information?

    I love Chengdu, I would love to visit again, but the safety risks are just the same or even more now than in 2023 for certain people.

  22. My understanding is that ‘Worldcon’ is a ‘service mark’ but I am not sure what legal standing that has (let alone international legal standing)? Does it have the same force as a ‘trade mark’?

    Irrespective of the legal standing, if China is using the term ‘Worldcon’ in the context of science fiction then this could be considered brand appropriation in that hey seem to be riding on the coat-tails of the existing ‘Worldcon’ brand/reputation if not implying some connection between their commercial ventures and our Worldcon.

    In addition, notwithstanding the above, I’d be a little disturbed that as the Worldcon is primarily a grass-roots SF fan concern, that Chengdu’s SF commercial interests are by using the Worldcon term are appropriating its use.

    I know that the various WSFS committees have next to no actual power to do things beyond their specific remits (whose fault is that? (only a partly-rhetorical question)) but I’d want some decidedly clear water between the fan-run Worldcon and any commercial SF concerns (of whatever nation) using the term ‘Worldcon’, especially usage in local government documents that presumably have some legal standing in, in this case, China, especially if they are promoting ‘IP development’.

    I therefore repeat my plea that putative Worldcon host nations can only bid if the host nation adheres to some basic democratic processes and freedoms hence must have a certain minimum freedom/democratic index score by a generally recognised index, and that this needs to be enshrined in the WSFS constitution…

    Heck, things are bad enough as it is with purportedly lawful and democratic countries such as the US reneging on contracts be it numerous Hollywood issues and even the latest Amazing Stories debacle in which public naming and shaming seems to be the only way to get a contract honoured. Or even for some of us having to struggle to get Great Britain’s current Worldcon organisers to meet their WSFS publication obligations

    The bold font text highlighted by Ersatz Culture (nice one Ersatz) does warrant special attention.

  23. I don’t see China getting another Worldcon anytime soon, unless the government orders enough citizens to vote in a future bid (which is entirely possible). Otherwise, I’d expect a bid held in an abandoned Stuckey’s on I-10 outside Beaumont, TX to outpoll them.

  24. I therefore repeat my plea that putative Worldcon host nations can only bid if the host nation adheres to some basic democratic processes and freedoms hence must have a certain minimum freedom/democratic index score by a generally recognised index, and that this needs to be enshrined in the WSFS constitution…

    Who recognizes the recognizer? if you think “uncontroversial” host countries don’t, say, jail political prisoners or interfere in elections, you will be surprised to learn that many of their citizens disagree. Without getting into how plausible such a claim looks to the Chinese or Ugandans.You might be surprised how many readers of this webzine disagree.

    (Also, Free Assange!)

  25. Can I please push back slightly on the fears of service mark infringement. There may be a lost in translation problem here. In their strategic planning, some North American and Western European publishing houses also “strive” to put out Hugo winners as a benchmark. I don’t like their tactics either, but when I object I’m told the generation ship has crossed the heliopause.

    And Dublin uses governmental support to “strive” to repeatedly host literary conventions. Hypocrisy can sneak up on you.

    The fatal flaw in Chengdu’s plan is that they won’t be able to mobilize Chinese fandom again after their past mistakes. The fans will vote with their feet. But they should push for a more creative China bid instead, one that is a better fit with Worldcon’s existing institutional culture.

  26. Worldcon isn’t chosen by poll or popular votes by random people.

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  28. @Gregory Eugene Turnbow:

    I suggest targeting the method by which they did it last time, rather than targeting the ideological concerns directly. Ideology can be argued. Tactics, however, leaves a provable paper trail.

    I find it bizarre how many of these conversations reveal that people believe that there’s some mystery as to how Chengdu happened or that there exists the slightest mechanism for stopping it from happening again (shy of just throwing out all of the rules).

    I’ll let you in on a secret. Here’s the entirety of the “tactics” that were used:

    (1) Some organization or entity (or, if you’re very gullible, a group of fans) put up $200k, half of which they’d get back if they won, to which were attached the names of 2000 individuals who may or may not actually exist.

    (2) There is no step 2. That’s it.

    The selection process for Worldcon assumes that everyone involved is a bona fide fan who is acting in good faith, and the way people show their support is putting their money where their mouth is. The only requirement for being part of the decision-making process of the WSFS is being willing to pay for WSFS membership.

    There is no grassroots way of stopping any authoritative regime from renting Worldcon aside from just flat-out outspending that regime (knowing that half of the money you spend will go to that regime’s con committee if you fail).

    There is no ‘wise old elders’ way of stopping this from happening. The closest thing that the WSFS has to that is the Mark Protection Committee, of which Ben Yalow (Chengdu co-chairman and essentially their ambassador telling everyone things were under control) is still a member, even after everything that’s come out since. I mean, the MPC did barely manage to approve a tepid reprimand of Yalow which failed to even specify what behavior of his they were reprimanding him for, but that’s it.

    Considering I haven’t seen a single discussion about trying to set a baseline for what kind of country Worldcons can be held that doesn’t devolve into accusations of racism, claims that Florida and China are equivalent, and arguments that the US should be banned from holding Worldcons too, I’m dubious that any such proposal would pass, but in any event, no such system currently exists.

    Under the current system, the only thing which prevents a bad actor from renting or even effectively buying Worldcon is whether they care enough to spend the money. That’s it.

  29. Is the “Worldcon” trademark (service mark) registered in China? If not, it’s not a trademark violation.

    Fortunately, China cares so much about this.

  30. Jonathan C. on May 2, 2024 at 3:26 am said:
    I really do think it is time we baked into the WSFS constitution that proposed Worldcon venue nations have to meet a minimum standard democracy/freedom scores so we minimise the risk of brand hi-jacking (as seems the case here), or gender politics issues (as with some African and Middle East bids) among other concerns.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_indices

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_freedom_indices

    There are a range of freedom/democracy indices to choose from. There seems to be a clear divide between those proposed bidding nations of concern (plus the past China nation host) and other, past, Worldcon hosting nations

    This is what I keep saying.

  31. Michael Pinnick on May 2, 2024 at 1:17 pm said:
    “Did these deals involve the participation of people officially affiliated with Worldcon?”

    When they pulled the switch there were people from future seated Worldcons on the stage. I don’t know that any of them were advised of what they were supporting, but I think there were discussions of how the exchanges could benefit the conventions by increasing diversity and exposure to Chinese works. It could have been all show with no intentions, or there could have been discussions with the seated Worldcons. You’d need to ask them.

  32. Tom Becker: Possibly they do not plan so much to “build” a new “81st Worldcon Memorial Hall” rather than place a permanent exposition about the glorious event they held in one of the rooms of the finished Museum — nothing in the text suggests to me they would want to start expanding it already (despite possibly building offices for the “SF industry” around it).

    I see “The complete Chinese language graphic follows the jump” now appears twice — one shrunk to 103px width, the other the same copy of it expanded to the roughly original size that would be legible had not been for the lossy compresion. This one, however, can be clicked on… just to show the tiny version again, but clicking further on the inconspicuous “(i)” gives you the option of “View full size 258×2560” (which still is not quite full size to recognise the characters properly).

    Still, the image remains available from Weixin (direct file link: https://mmbiz.qpic.cn/mmbiz_png/5L89gP0hRBhTCq5qKNStqqH6c8c2BPr0VjqcPofoLYz9XCic6YLPCAEsNG8bF3ohsC50PNZUtgLvuNv91CW74ng/640 ), I have no doubt that the usual suspects have backups, and the Pidu website has the plan as plain text, saving one the hassle with OCR.

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