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China: Unrestricted cultural imports coming soon, maybe

Big news last week from Reuters—”China accepts WTO ruling on entertainment goods” ; “WTO: China cannot use censorship to justify trade barrier”—didn't get as much coverage as one would expect, and some media that did run the story ended up taking it down.

The Reuters story refers to a letter signed by ambassadors to the WTO from both China and the USA in which an agreement was struck that would see China remove all barriers on imports of books, music, films and other entertainment products by March next year.

While not immediately obvious, as the Reuters report suggests, where on the WTO website the letter in question was published, a document which closely resembles it can currently be found on the website for the WTO Center of the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research:

“…China and the United States have agreed that the reasonable period of time for China to implement the recommendations and rulings of the Dispute Settlement Body (“DSB”) in the dispute China – Measures Affecting Trading Rights and Distribution Services for Certain Publications and Audiovisual Entertainment Products (WT/DS363) shall be 14 months from the 19 January 2010 date…”

Lack of further information on what would otherwise be a quite noteworthy achievement has left some questioning the news.

Nonetheless, the story was quickly picked up and widely reported on by a number of Chinese media; below are some comments made on the news.

Huanqiu:

支持贸易自由,反对强买强卖。中国市场应该开放,但是不需要的东西可以不买啊!否则强买强卖能说是贸易自由吗?

I support free trade, and I oppose being told what I can or can't buy and sell. China's markets should be open, and the things we don't need, we don't have to buy! How can it be called free trade if we're told what we can or can't buy or sell?

中国缺的是技术,不是文化!

What China lacks is technology, not culture!

既然已经开放了,那就让全世界的文化产品全部进来

Since [the market] is open now, let cultural products from all over the world come in

。。。难道。。。WOW以后版本都能通过审核了?

Wait…does this mean…future versions of World of Warcraft will all get approved?

NetEase:

中国保留两家国有电影发行公司,也无须提高每年引进20部外国电影的限额。还保护了中国政府对外国电影进行一定程度审查的权利。那么美国及其它外国企业引进的电影完全可以用审查不合格或者超过发行限额了来驳回。是这样吗?

China will still have its two state-owned film distribution companies, and won't have to raise its current limit of 20 foreign films per year. The Chinese government will also reserve its right to censor foreign films. Thus, America or other foreign companies bringing in films will still be able to reject the deal with claims of unwarranted censorship or distribution quotas, wouldn't you say?

Sina Military forum:

我们真正应该进口的是高科技而不是这些垃圾

What we really need to be importing is technology, not this crap.

麻烦不断

The trouble just keeps coming.

中国要的是科技,科技。科技啊

What China needs is technology, technology, technology!

中国的文化不好吗? 需要竞争吗?

What's so wrong with Chinese culture? Does it need to compete?

Solidot:

只要审查不立法,就可以想怎么审就怎么审。而我们都知道审查是不可能立法的。

As long as censorship is done outside the law, they can censor whatever they like. And we all know that censorship will never be made into law.

只谈我知道的,电影审查从来没有被什么法规定过,审查什么全凭只心见性,电影界呼吁了多少年,说给个条文出来也行啊,不给,为什么不给大家都明白。所以就这么一个WTO的裁决,顶多一个备忘录什么的,怎么可能限制电影审查呢。你指望什么华纳公司像google一样犯葛,也不大可能。

Only speaking from what I know, film censorship has never been written into any law, and censorship that is carried out depends completely on who's behind it. The film industry has made a fuss over this for years, calling for a rating system, anything, but nothing has been done and no reason has been given. Which is why a WTO ruling like this, at most, is just for the record. How could it possible curb film censorship? Do you think Warner Brothers or whoever will be able to pull off something like what Google did? Don't count on it.

QQ News:

没有评论?

No comments?

新闻没被删已经算是奇迹。。。

It's a miracle alone that this news hasn't been deleted already…

In related news, WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy will be attending the Shanghai Expo this week for “WTO Honour Day”, at which he will give a speech.

2 comments

  • the running man

    Deeds, not words.

    PS This article is blocked in China.

  • […] Global Voices, in a post on this strange incident, summarized things nicely (albeit with mistakes repeated): Big news last week from Reuters—”China accepts WTO ruling on entertainment goods” ; “WTO: China cannot use censorship to justify trade barrier”—didn’t get as much coverage as one would expect, and some media that did run the story ended up taking it down. […]

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