As Xi visit winds down, U.S. silent on movie talks

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 17, 2012 1:08 PM
As Xi visit winds down, U.S. silent on movie talks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Talks aimed at opening China's market to more American movies hung in the balance on Friday as China's expected next leader visited Los Angeles without any word from the U.S. government that a deal had been reached.

The office of U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk declined to comment on the negotiations.

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping's trip to the United States this week has raised hopes the two sides could strike a deal opening China's market to more American blockbusters.

Xi, who is known to be a fan of American movies, is poised to take over as leader of China's Communist Party this year and become state president in 2013.

The United States won what it described as a major victory at the World Trade Organization in 2009 against Chinese restrictions on the importation and distribution of copyright-protected materials, such as movies, books and music.

A deal to open China's market to more American movies would bolster President Barack Obama's promise to increase pressure on Beijing to play by global trade rules.

Xi is finishing his visit on Friday in Los Angeles, where a joint venture between Dreamworks Animation and China-based investors could be announced.

China only allows 20 foreign films a year to be screened nationally, and the films must be shown through a designated state-owned intermediary.

U.S. government officials say the restrictions stimulate demand for pirated DVDs, which are widely available in China.

A U.S. industry official, who asked not to be identified, said the two sides were still negotiating late on Thursday on improved market access for American movies.

"Given the direction of Chinese policy - they just banned all foreign TV shows - earlier in the week, it's hard to see them agreeing to something meaningful, and I don't believe industry will take a bad deal," the aide said.

Chinese state media reported on Tuesday that China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television issued new rules prohibiting foreign TV shows from being shown on Chinese television stations between 7 p.m and 10 p.m.

Chinese networks are also forbidden from airing unapproved shows produced by companies outside of China and foreign series that contain violent or vulgar material, the new rules stated.

(Reporting By Doug Palmer; Editing by Paul Simao)