American studios would have to wait, this time a little long, before they release their movies to theatres in the mainland China. The delay comes as the Chinese government has issued an order banning the screening of U.S. films in the country until at least February 2008.According to Variety, the ban was announced through the State Administration for Film Radio and Television or the Film Bureau – an executive branch which supervises movie industry policy and application in China.

While it is well known that China has some of the stiffest rules in place when it comes to importing a foreign film (not more than 20 a year making it to Chinese screens), this time around the ban is thought to be an outcome of a mix of political and economic issues.

The trade paper listed out three major factors that could have prompted the ban – including the U.S.’ tirade against China through the World Trade Organization over the country’s anti-piracy laws, restrictions on the sale of American movies, music and books there; the success of American movies at the expense of Chinese films; and other tit-bit political and social issues such as the U.S. sale of weapons to Taiwan and honor to Dalai Lama.

Although the WTO has knocked down the main Chinese trade barriers, the ones protecting the entertainment industry are still standing strong. Some Chinese sources revealed to Variety that the ban that started on Dec 1 could continue until May.

China most recently banned Martin Scorsese’s crime thriller “The Departed” because a scene in the film pointed to Chinese plot to purchase American military equipment. Last year, “Memoirs of a Geisha,” was banned from screening in the country, amid speculations that portrayal of Japanese escorts by Chinese actresses may spark Sino-Japanese tensions.  

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