The Disney Legends Awards at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank Monday October 13, 2008.

The Disney Legends Awards at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank Monday October 13, 2008. (Times Community News / April 11, 2012)

Walt Disney Co. said it would join an initiative to develop China's animation industry, marking the latest push by Hollywood to expand into the world's most populous country.

The agreement announced Tuesday unites the Burbank entertainment giant with an animation arm of China's Ministry of Culture and China's largest Internet company, Tencent Holdings Ltd.

China's government has identified animation as a key area for development to boost the country's global influence, or "soft power." The interest in animation is due in part to the success of DreamWorks Animation's "Kung Fu Panda" franchise, which sparked wide debate within China about why the country can't leverage its culture as effectively as Hollywood.

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