Tue, Apr 24, 2018 - Page 3 News List

China tightening control over film industry: academic

By Chung Li-hua and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

With China tightening its control over its film industry, joint productions between Taiwan and China are likely to focus on portraying a single historical viewpoint and featuring grand endings suggesting that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are “one family,” a Taiwanese academic said.

Following last month’s meeting of China’s National People’s Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Central Committee released a plan to consolidate party and state institutional reforms.

Under the plan, the CCP’s Publicity Department is to oversee film, news and publishing regulations.

Since China’s announcement on Feb. 28 of 31 measures to attract Taiwanese workers, some Taiwanese working in the film industry on both sides of the Taiwan Strait are planning to ask the government to lift the quota that limits imports of Chinese films to 10 per year, said Lee Cheng-liang (李政亮), an assistant professor at National Chengchi University’s College of Communication.

However, Lee believes the quota should be lifted under a principle of reciprocity, with the government requiring Beijing to carry out its promise in the 31 measures that imports of Taiwanese films would not be subject to quotas.

The government should also demand that the requirement that all imports of Taiwanese films go through China Film Group’s China Film Import and Export Corp be eased and that Taiwanese movies should not be subject to ideological tests, he said.

Lee added that while the 31 measures state that imports of Taiwanese films and television series would not be limited by quotas, the requirement is already stated in the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA).

“However, because of the differences in Taiwanese and Chinese values — Chinese do not enjoy watching Taiwanese films, nor do Taiwanese enjoy watching Chinese films — the number of Taiwanese films that China imports is very limited,” he said.

Night Market Hero (雞排英雄), the first Taiwanese film that entered China after ECFA was signed, only made 1.2 million yuan (US$190,978 at the current exchange rate) at the box office, he said.

Our Times (我的少女時代) made more than 300 million yuan in the box office, which is a rare exception, he added.

As for China’s easing of regulations governing Taiwanese participation in films jointly produced by Taiwan and China, this might be an attractive proposition for individual actors, Lee said, adding that China has continued to slam celebrities who support Taiwanese independence.

If China’s tactic works, it would use these examples as promotional material for the 31 measures, but these would benefit only a few individuals, he said.

China is also likely to demand that the subject of Taiwanese and Chinese joint productions be related to cross-strait relations, he added.

Previous joint productions often depicted veterans or their children returning to China to visit their relatives and featured grand endings suggesting that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are “one family,” he said.

While 1949 is an important period in Taiwan’s political history, it is not the only one, Lee said, citing other significant events, such as the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) rule, the 228 Massacre and the White Terror era.

The single historical viewpoint portrayed in joint productions lacks a diverse historical perspective and is likely to feel distant to the Taiwanese audience, Lee said.

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