Chinese officials governing film policy and film-related affairs said that China will not introduce a film ratings system in the near future. 

Zhao Shi, vice minister of the State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARFT), said at a news conference today in Beijing about the reform of the country’s cultural and entertainment sectors.

Zhao said that although film rating system had been exercised in many countries around the world, but the Chinese government had conducted studies on the issue and the results showed that the system did not prove successful to control young people’s access to inappropriate films.

“In theory, such a system is conducive to offering a variety of films to new consumers, practically speaking there’s no success even in the most developed markets at preventing young people from accessing inappropriate films at Internet cafes and even in cinemas,” she said at the press conference.

Since 2003, setting up a film rating system has been discussed within the Chinese cabinet as well as Chinese annual National People’s Congress (NPC) and National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).  Filmmakers including Zhang Yimou, who is a member of CPPCC, and Feng Xiaogang, have both spoke in public supporting the idea to set up the system.

Zhao’s comments on Thursday is seen by some industry players as a policy U-turn. SARFT began its research on the film rating system in 2003, and had conducted surveys among cinema goers across the country as well as more than 200 cinema managers. In 2004, the film rating system was included in SARFT’s draft of Film Promotion Law, which is still in draft stage.

At the press conference, Zhao also added that China has been reforming its film management system, enhancing law-enforcement, and managing film affairs in a scientific method. “We are working on a film management system that is suitable for Chinese culture and the development of Chinese films,” she said.

Because of lacking a film rating system, all films entering Chinese cinemas are required to be appropriate for audience of all ages. Films containing violence, sex and supernatural elements are usually considered inappropriate for young audience, therefore likely to be barred by Chinese film censors.