The Dilemma Facing the Film Censorship System in China

During Beijing International Film Festival in 2013, the film called Django Unchained was banned one minute after it was put on the screen. Hence, the film classification system became a heated topic again during the film festival. Although the appeal for replacing film censorship with film classification had lasted for years, the film classification system did not make any progress because of legal and other reasons.Screen Shot 2018-09-12 at 12.31.52 PM.png

As noted by some experts, the so-called film censorship system is executed in accordance with Regulations on Administration of Films released by the State Council on June 22 of 2006. Besides strictly covering the content of the films, the regulation also empowers the film censorship committee to expurgate the films. The most important during the process of film censorship is not disclosing national secrets, compromising national security or harming national honor and interest. For example, Devils on the Doorstep directed by Jiang Wen is banned because of its improper stance towards those ordinary Chinese people featured by stupidity, numbness and servility in the film. There are eight provisions in the 14th article of the regulation. To be more specific, the film must be expurgated or modified if it involves any distortion of the Chinese civilization and Chinese history as well as any content regarding homicide, violence and terror.

Speaking of the flaws in the film censorship system, many directors expressed their concern that it will hinder many films from being put on the screen, but censorship system is not unique to China. As a matter of fact, many other countries have a strict film censorship system. The difference is that the film censorship system of many countries and regions exists in the form of film classification. A film in the USA can be classified as G-rated film (open to everyone), PG-rated film (children with the company of their parent), PG-13-rated film (not suitable for children under 13) and R-rated film (audience under 17 with the company of their parent or adults). Considering that Django Unchained is classified as an R-rated film in the USA, the audience under the age of 17 can watch the film with the company of their parent or adult. Because there is not a relevant film classification system in China, R-rated films have been banned or put on the screen in China after being expurgated a lot. As a result, many excellent films which should have been watched by the adult audience are banned from the screen.

Although there has long been an appeal for film classification system from the Chinese film circle, the fact is that the film classification system will not arrive soon. Li Chao who is a member of Shandong Film Censorship Committee explained that the film censorship system would not be changed greatly. He added that the responsibility should not be extended to the State Administration of Radio Film and Television and the film censorship system must be subject to the existing laws. For example, the film censorship system requires that any obscene and pornographic content should be banned because there is a crime of disseminating obscene article in Criminal Law. Hence, it is impossible for film censorship to extend beyond the scope of Criminal Law.



BAI, SIYING. “Recent Developments in the Chinese Film Censorship System.” Southern Illinois University Carbondale OpenSIUC (2013): 1-36.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s