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HONG KONG – Taiwan is to allow more mainland Chinese films to receive import and theatrical distribution.

Taiwan has previously maintained an annual quota of just ten Chinese films per year to play in its theatres.

But under an amendment to the quota, that became effective from Oct. 30, Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture said that it will allow in Chinese films of artistic merit that have won major prizes. These are defined as films that have won either the best film or best director awards in the main competition sections of the Cannes, Venice or Berlin festivals, the Academy Awards or the Golden Horse Awards.

That could put Berlin Golden Bear winner “Black Coal, Thin Ice,” in contention for a release. So too Lou Ye’s “Blind Massage,” which won a Silver Bear at the same festival in February.

The restrictions had been intended to prevent big budget films from China – which largely share the same language — swamping Taiwanese cinemas. However, some in the Taiwan industry doubt the threat, while others want to distribute more. There has been active talk of increasing the quota to 15 films from 2015.

The existence of the quotas meant that Taiwanese distributors have had to either queue for permits, or, since this year join a lottery system. Neither system was any guarantee of quality or commercial appeal.

In other cases mainland Chinese films with significant Hong Kong participation have been classified as Hong Kong films and allowed to play.

Relations between China and Taiwan have often been thorny as China regards Taiwan as a rebel province with which it will eventually be reunited. The recent political thaw has brought economic and cultural opportunities as well as threats.

China has no limit on the number of Taiwanese films that can play on the mainland. The number that have is small, but growing.

Taiwan recently announced up to $2.5 million of grants to encourage international co-productions.