China has issued a new standard rule via their National Radio and Television Administration. The rule is effective from April 1st and requires all producers of entertainment to reveal the nationalities of the actors they employ, and to display them in the credits.

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This is seen as a move by the government to limit on-screen opportunities for ethnic Chinese actors who have foreign citizenship. The stipulation also covers the crew and applies to Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.

The move comes in response to rising criticism of China overseas due to crackdowns on democratic freedom in Hong Kong in defiance of treaties, human rights in Xinjiang, and tensions over Taiwan. The movie is to stoke feelings of patriotism and nationalism ahead of an expected move on Taiwan while daring the rest of the world to intervene.

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Two years ago a comprehensive programme content rule was introduced to limit the use of “inappropriate” actors from outside the mainland. The criteria for “inappropriate” actors were deliberately left unclear, thus allowing authorities to apply their judgment arbitrarily.

China bans dual citizenship by law. However many famous Chinese actors went on to claim foreign citizenship elsewhere. Jet Li, for example, was born in Beijing but has Singaporean citizenship. These rules could be used to prevent him from working in China or on Chinese productions.

China

Top Chinese actress Gong Li was forced to relinquish her Chinese citizenship in order to obtain Singaporean nationality and was accused of betraying China. The 2020 movie Leap was about the Chinese national women’s volleyball team winning the world championship. The movie was widely criticized in China for using Gong Li to play Lang Ping, the coach who is regarded as a hero in China.

This is another weapon in the arsenal of the Chinese state to add to their powers to censure entertainers accused of “immoral behaviour”.

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