China's Premier Vows to Promote Film, TV Industries, "Core Socialist Values"

Amid promises of reforms to sector regulations, leading industry figures also renew their calls for a film ratings system.

China's annual rubber-stamp legislature, the National People's Congress, got under way on Thursday, with the country's Premier Li Keqiang pledging to promote the entertainment industry as delegates renewed calls for a film classification system.

Some 3,000 delegates gathered in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, which was draped in red flags and watched over by a red star in the center of the ceiling.

Delegates, many of them wearing regional costumes or military uniforms, applauded dutifully as Li outlined the government's plans to promote and reform the "cultural industries," which include film and television.

"Culture is the lifeblood of a nation and a source of innovation. We will put into practice core socialist values and promote fine traditional Chinese culture. We will promote radio, television, and film," Li said as he delivered the annual government work report.

Separately the government said it would deepen reform of the entertainment industry regulation, introduce more cultural centers for the public and put in a serious bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. Some of those reforms could include making the censorship system easier to understand.

Yin Li, a delegate at the NPC's advisory body, the CPPCC, and a director working for China Film Group, said China's film industry was developing by leaps and bounds and had the kind of stratospheric growth that was unusual in the world. However, the foundations of the Chinese industry were not satisfactory and people were still critical of domestic films.

There also needs to be more clarity on censorship, the delegate said. "At the moment, there is a misunderstanding that film censorship is a film rating system and that means that you can make a porn movie, but actually it doesn't," he said. "After the film rating system is introduced, there won't be situations where adults have to cover their children’s eyes or take the children away, or where the children were too afraid and burst into tears."

He also said that producers needed to be careful about hiring stars "with bad records." The Chinese government has been on a moral crusade in recent months, and a fistful of big names in the entertainment industry have been nabbed in drug and vice busts, including Hong Kong action star Jackie Chan's son, Jaycee Chan.

These "tainted stars" should be treated like the enemy, said Li. "Their behavior has had a negative effect on themselves, the whole acting and entertainment industry," said Li. "As public figures, their moral model and personal behavior are not their own matter. They influence the public, especially the young people."

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