China opens to H.K. pix

Pact to open distrib'n channels

HONG KONG — China looks set to exempt Hong Kong from its foreign film quota as part of a new free trade agreement, according to Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa.

China allows 20 foreign films to be imported each year, mostly Hollywood blockbusters.

Under the unique “one country, two systems” policy that governs the relationship between Hong Kong and China, which took the territory back from British rule six years ago, Hong Kong maintains a separate economy and falls under the film quota. To gain distribution on the mainland and get around the quota, many Hong Kong companies have hooked up with mainland companies for co-productions.

Deal will also increase the number of Hong Kong crew members allowed to work on a mainland television or film production.

People in the film industry welcomed the news but said they hoped to see other changes in China, such as better control within the box office and distribution infrastructure, relaxation of censorship and a better rating system.

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The free trade deal will be signed on Monday.