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China mulls law to boost film industry

[BEIJING] China is reviewing a draft law aimed at boosting financial incentives for Chinese movies and ensuring freedom to make films, state media said on Friday, as it hopes to expand the cultural and commercial success of its film industry.

China's box office is expected to overtake the US market as the world's largest by 2017, and while foreign films have traditionally dominated the industry, locally made films are posing an increasing challenge.

Chinese movies have accounted for about 60 per cent of total ticket sales this year.

Nonetheless, China has struggled to produce pictures with global box office punch, and officials hope to expand the imprint abroad of the country's culture and arts through "cultural reform", part of a broader soft-power push.

The draft law, being reviewed by the legislature, would offer financing incentives and tax cuts for script writing, filming, distribution, screening, and overseas promotion of domestic films, the official Xinhua news agency said.

It would also "ensure the freedom to produce films" and perfect and open to the public "concrete film examination standards", Xinhua said, referring to the way films are approved by censors.

Their review of a film would be "subject to the opinions of experts" the news agency said, adding that "industry insiders" expected the law to "bridge gaps between domestic and foreign movies" in technology, capital, talent and content.

Critics argue that China's strict censorship regime for all broadcast media, in which anything deemed politically sensitive is banned, has dulled the global appeal of the country's films.

Among China's censorship guidelines, a 2001 order issued by the State Council bans content that endangers the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of China, harms national honour and disrupts social stability. Harming public morality and national traditions is forbidden.