The Future of Chinese/U.S. Co-Production Regulations

In 2010, China and the United States endorsed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that increased the US access into China and boosted revenue for U.S. film companies, ensuring that 34 revenue-sharing foreign films are imported to China annually and that foreign studios receive 25 percent of box office receipts. Chinese Film Regulation authorities are beginning to loosen their regulations of foreign films entering domestic china, as well as provide more flexibility towards US-Chinese co-productions. by the end of 2016, at least 38 foreign films will have been released in China, a number that exceeds the 34 films mandated in current bilateral agreements. Of these 34 films, the ones that provide the most favorable views of Chinese authority and government, or promote traditional Chinese cultural values, as well as films that have been produced through US/Chinese co-production typically get chosen over their other Hollywood counterparts. China Central Television (CCTV) executive Lu Hongshi stated, “Leveraging the Chinese market is the Chinese dream of the Americans,” and the profit of this leverage is an increase indigenous Chinese film development by American contribution.


The 18th Party Congress Report is the 2017 primary directive for China’s cultural sector is “developing a strong Socialist culture in China,” by creating new cultural products that are in line with the CPC’s core socialist values system, no matter whether they are originally intended to be or not. The biggest issue within these arrangements what American’s production houses consider censorship, as foreign films must pass strict regulations set by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television (SAPPRFT). SAPPRFT justifies this by demanding their films portray social morality, and prohibit negative depictions of authorities or China in general. In 2017, U.S. studios and producers will continue to operate under politicized a censored environment, even if the number of foreign films released in China increases.
The CPC’s 13th Five Year Plan is their authoritative strategy for China’s cultural structure during 2017 to 2020. The 13th five year plan calls for a larger allotment of resources dedicated towards the cinema and television development, as well as enhancing socialist literature, music, and art. Under the 13th Five Year Plan, all modern arts arts cultural development must adapt to fit China’s traditional socialist values. CPC President Xi remains confident in China’s 5000 year old culture maintaining relevance in the arts.


These goals will most-likely conflict with the interests of U.S./foreign film production companies that seek access to the China through imposing restrictions and self-censorship. U.S. productions will be expected to adapt to “Chinese conditions”, or fear being replaced by Chinese domestic competitors.