China plans tighter film censorship

Published December 15, 2011

Under the proposals, China would bar “incitement to resist or undermine the constitution” and the “promotion of religious fanaticism” from films. - AP File Photo

BEIJING: China is planning to tighten already strict movie censorship to bar anti-government sentiments and messages of religious fanaticism from the screen, the government said Thursday.

The proposal, posted to the web site of the State Council, or cabinet, comes as more and more Chinese stream to the movies for entertainment, boosting box office takings by more than 60 per cent last year to about $1.5 billion.

It is part of a draft film law now under consideration that would raise to 13 the subject categories not allowed. Previous bans cover too much smoking on screen, explicit sex and graphic violence.

Under the proposals, China would bar “incitement to resist or undermine the constitution” and the “promotion of religious fanaticism” from films.

A further proposed ban would bar any film from “promoting” illegal drugs or terrorist activity.

Critics of censorship enforced by the film bureau of the State Administration of Radio Film and Television say that the rules hamper filmmakers' freedoms to tell realistic contemporary stories.

China already bans the screening of films deemed politically sensitive and moviemakers wanting their works to be seen by the general public tend to steer clear of topics they know will fall foul of censors.

The country does not have a film ratings system like those used by governments in other developed nations to allow moviegoers to choose for themselves what is and is not appropriate to see.

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