The censorship of movies has long been a routine practice of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). As a result, domestic films and especially foreign movies, are increasingly strictly censored before being released in China.
According to RFA, only 38 foreign films were released for Chinese moviegoers in the first ten months of this year. A decrease from 136 in 2019 and 73 for the entirety of 2021.
The last foreign film to be released in China was the 2022 re-release of “Jaws” on August 26.
Deputy Propaganda Minister Sun Yelisaid at a press conference in August that the fall in foreign film imports was due to many factors. He alluded to “higher standards” applied to U.S. films. He said that filmmakers needed to make “higher-quality” movies and “respect the cultures, traditions, and interests of audiences.”
However, movies that are highly appreciated and loved by international audiences face many obstacles to overcome and reach Chinese audiences.
The Hollywood blockbuster Avatar 2 was an example. It was given initial reviews by the State Radio, Film, and Television Administration. Although it passed the evaluation, it has not been able to premiere because it has yet to be granted a license.
RFA cited commentators saying that the CCP has reduced the number of foreign films its censors approve for screening and distribution. It may be a sign that the Chinese leader is trying to isolate the country culturally from the rest of the world.
A teacher surnamed Qian in the eastern province of Zhejiang told RFA, “Foreign films show foreign values and attitudes towards life, which can have a subtle effect on people in China.” He added, “They want people to be totally obedient to the state, and individuals “belong to the state.”