While Chinese actors Jackie Chan and Zhang Jingchu make their red carpet appearances at the premiere of Rush Hour 3 in the US, it looks unlikely that the film will receive the same treatment in their home country.

According to China 's sole film importer, China Film Import and Export Corporation, and the film's Chinese rights holder, Edko Films, Rush Hour 3 has a very slim chance of being released in mainland China.

State-owned China Film Import and Export Corp confirmed today that it would not import the film. Staff who declined to be named did not explain the reasons for the decision, while the company's vice president, Xiao Ping, yesterday told a newswire service that the film would not be shown because it was commercially unviable. 'We think the market for the movie is relatively weak,' Xiao was quoted as saying.

Edko Films, the company that released the first two Rush Hour movies in China and has rights to the third, also confirmed that the film is not likely to be released. 'Only 20 films are allowed to be imported and it's natural that many Hollywood films are excluded from the quota. It should not be taken as an unusual case,' an Edko executive told Screendaily.

Although the real reason for blocking the film has not been explained, industry players are speculating that the central plot about a Chinese gangster organisation worried local censors who believed it gave a negative portrayal of Chinese people.

Also, China allows only 20 films a year to be imported on a revenue-sharing basis and competition for this year's slots is fierce. So far this year, 14 revenue-sharing films have already been released, and with Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix and Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer ready for August and September slots, Rush Hour 3 can only hope for a November or December release even if it passes censorship.

It is also known that the Chinese Communist Party will hold its 17th congress in October and local Chinese films will be largely promoted and foreign films downplayed during this month.

November and December are traditionally a crowded season for local blockbusters. With foreign movies doing so well in the past seven months, it is unlikely that foreign films will be welcome to join this busy season.