China Plans Movie Propaganda Push for Ethnic Minorities

The State Ethnic Affairs Commission says it will shoot a propaganda film for each of the country's 55 ethnic minority groups.

The Chinese government has announced an ambitious scheme to promote its many ethnic minority groups via propaganda movies. It says it will shoot one film for each of the country's 55 distinct ethnicities.

The plans were unveiled by the State Ethnic Affairs Commission at a ceremony on Sunday. The films will showcase the culture, traditions and lifestyles of the various groups. According to state-backed news service Xinhua, the first four films will represent the Mongol, Manchu, Dong and Qiang ethnicities.

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China has produced propaganda films via its state studios since the earliest days of the PRC. But with the emergence of widespread Internet access and a glitzy commercial entertainment industry, the popularity of such films has plummeted over recent years. In March, local media reported that several cinemas in major Chinese cities were forced to cancel shows of a government film after it failed to sell a single ticket on its opening day.

The Han Chinese, China’s dominant ethnic group, make up an estimate 92 percent of the country’s population of 1.3 billion. But the government officially recognizes 55 distinct ethnicities, many of which retain their own language and customs.

The Ethnic Affairs Commission said that 20 groups had never been portrayed in Chinese cinema. It said it will invest more in state projects about such peoples and work to nurture film talent among minorities.