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China bans filming in historic areas

Violators could incur a $125,000 fine

BEIJING — China has banned filming and artistic performances in nature reserves, scenic spots and areas of historical interest.

Violators could incur a $125,000 fine under the regulation, issued jointly by the State Environmental Protection Administration, the construction and culture ministries and the State Administration of Cultural Heritage.

Filming in nature reserves has been a touchy issue since helmer Chen Kaige’s “The Promise” was accused of littering and destroying vegetation in Shangri La in the southwestern province of Yunnan in 2004.

The producer was fined $11,250 and an official was fired for neglecting his duty, but many felt the punishment was too light.

The new regulations were introduced in December but are only now being publicized.

Some limited filming and performances will be allowed in “experimental zones” as well as the outer sections of scenic spots and some cultural heritage sites, but approval must be given for sets and stages.

Around 15% of China’s land area is covered by nature reserves.

Meanwhile, more cinemas will be built in rural areas as part of the 11th Five Year Plan, which runs 2006-2010, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television said this week.

China’s booming economic growth has largely passed the country’s 800 million farmers by, and the government is keen to narrow a yawning wealth gap between the rich cities of the eastern seaboard and the poor countryside in central and western China.

“In the future, cinemas in the countryside will be run by companies governed by market forces and the government will put on some free movies for farmers as well,” Sarft deputy director Zhang Pimin promised.

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