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Chinese mainlanders will have to turn to piracy to watch the latest American blockbusters

China is blocking the import of American films, said MPAA CEO and Chairman Dan Glickman in an official statement released last week.

“Although we have not received official confirmation of such a ban from the Chinese Government or China Film, the indicators are strong that our information is correct,” read the statement. “If such action has been taken … it would represent an enormous step backwards in terms of China’s efforts to develop a strong … and legitimate film exhibition and distribution market.”

In a move that some suspect is retaliation for a recent U.S.-filed WTO complaint over China’s alarmingly high piracy rate, the Chinese government appears to have stopped granting import requests to American filmmakers -- of which it normally allows for about 20 movies per year. According to one anonymous Hollywood executive speaking to The New York Times, the Chinese government became suddenly uncooperative; filmmakers’ movie import requests for early next year have thus far been ignored, delayed, or come back denied.

“We are working with top officials in the US government, including the Treasury Secretary, as well as the Trade Representative and Secretary of Commerce, both of whom are in China at the moment,” said Glickman. “If these reports are true, it is unacceptable that China has taken this action and we will bring all our resources and leverage to bear to address this situation.”

A spokeswoman from the Chinese State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television, declined to comment on the so-called ban, noting that if such a ban was in place it would have been officially announced on the Administration’s web site.

American filmmakers, many of whom are betting heavily on the growing the Chinese market, say China’s restrictive stance on American movies is a direct contributor to the country’s high piracy rate. The previous 20-movie limit is “a very low number to begin with,” said U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab, “and we believe the low number contributes to the problems [we] have in intellectual property rights protection.”

A Chinese ban on American movies “would be very serious indeed,” said Schwab, who at the time was at a Strategic Economic Dialogue meeting outside Beijing. “We have spoken forcefully to our Chinese hosts.”





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