Top Chinese Politician: True Socialists Won't Be Censored

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Yu Zhengsheng's remarks reflect a growing belief in the Communist leadership that Chinese movies need to do more to serve socialism rather than reflect Western values.

A top Communist Party leader has told China's annual parliament, the National People's Congress, how movies and other art works that embrace socialism had no problem with censorship, the latest sign of how the entertainment industry is being brought to heel in the world's second-largest film market.

There have been calls for changes to the censorship system at the National People's Congress, an annual rubber-stamp legislature that gathers 3,000 senior Communists in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

A lack of clarity about how censorship works is one of the main hurdles facing Hollywood as it tries to gain access to the booming China market.

"Art works should have two basic principles: socialism with Chinese characteristics and socialism as a core value. If these two bottom lines are grasped well, then censorship won't be a problem at all," stated Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the parliament's Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference advisory body and one of the elite seven-member Politburo Standing Committee, which runs China.

China's dramatic economic rise in recent years has been built on "socialism with Chinese characteristics," but the country is officially a Marxist-Leninist state run by the Communist Party.

His comments chime with those of President Xi Jinping, who has said the purpose of art is to serve socialism and the people, a stark reminder of the country's undimmed Communist credentials. The president has also said that art must not bear "the stench of money," nor should artists be "slaves to the market."

The CPPCC includes a number of senior industry representatives, including screenwriter Wang Xingdong, Jackie Chan and popular comedian Zhao Benshan.

Yu said filmmakers had a social responsibility and needed to be cautious not to encourage rumor-mongering or cause trouble. He said that President Xi believed that such things amounted to capricious behavior and caused many movies and TV shows to be of poor quality.

"There is too much focus on economic benefits and ignoring social benefits. If people act in a less impetuous way, there will be a real improvement in the quality of the works," Yu said. 

Another delegate at the NPC, Ouyang Changlin, said that the system for assessing TV ratings needed to be tightened up because a lot of TV networks provided fake information, and some even use their own ratings companies.

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