Cannes: China Corruption Crackdown Puts Pressure on Industry Attendance

Illustration by: Lars Leetaru

Chinese film officials will be swamped with meetings amid growing interest in the world's second largest film market.

China's wide-ranging crackdown on high-level corruption and official extravagance means that leading state film industry figures are having to keep their time on the Croisette short this year.

Interest in China, the world's second largest film market, has never been higher, and this year's Cannes festival will include a China Film Summit.

However, the graft crackdown means expenses for overseas junkets are down nearly 40 percent and it's getting harder for government officials to get permission to go overseas.

Delegates from the State Administration of Press, Publications, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) and the film bureau and officials from China Film Group charged with co-production organization will reportedly attend Cannes May 12-May 14 this year.

Earlier this year, a senior official from the Communist Party's anti-graft agency, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CDDI), said that the entertainment industry would be the focus of investigation.

They can expect to be swamped during their time in Cannes, but new rules mean officials cannot spend longer than five days away.

President Xi Jinping has launched a wide-ranging campaign to root out corruption in China, whether it involves massive wealth accumulated by the powerful so-called "tigers" of the elite or bribes to the "flies" at the bottom of the Communist Party.

One of the offshoots of this has been a major cutback in the number of official junkets – the days of entire government departments going on lengthy fact-finding missions to tourism hotspots are over. Government officials even have to hand their passports in to their superiors.

Earlier this month, the CCDI posted photographs of 21 tourist sites where cadres are banned from holding meetings. Last month, the deputy head of China's state nuclear body was sacked for misappropriating government funds while traveling to tourist spots during two trips to Argentina in 2013.

The crackdown is also impacting the private sector as shows of extravagance are frowned upon, although last week, Li Jinyuan, CEO of the Tiens Group, took 6,400 of his employees on a paid vacation to France, including time in Cannes and Monaco where he booked 4,700 hotel rooms for his staff.

The crackdown is also being felt in the luxury goods business. Expensive watches are no longer tolerated as gifts, while many five-star hotels have been advised to drop a star to avoid being seen as an expensive alternative.