Policy and creative strategies : Hong Kong CEPA films in the China market

Emilie Yueh-yu YEH*, Shi-yan CHAO

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines the creative strategies of Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) films in engagements with the China market under the framework of CEPA introduced in 2004. One of the aims of CEPA for the film sector is to boost co-production between Hong Kong and the mainland. In the past 10 years, CEPA has dramatically changed Hong Kong cinema’s relationship with China in that major film directors have moved to produce CEPA films to tap into the rapidly growing mainland market. This shift has been considered as part of HKSAR’s overall mainlandization and subsequent disappearance of a distinct local identity. This article revisits this view by presenting two case studies to see if indeed Hong Kong CEPA pictures are devoid of Hong Kong elements. The case studies analyze textual elements of two CEPA blockbuster films, The Mermaid (dir. Stephen Chow, 2016) and The Taking of Tiger Mountain 3D (dir. Tsui Hark, 2014). Citing the intertextual allusions to the directors’ old works seen in these two films, the authors argue that the market advantage granted by the CEPA scheme in effect allowed Hong Kong filmmakers to revive and extend signature creative strategies of Hong Kong cinema, despite censorship constraints.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-201
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Cultural Policy
Issue number2
Early online date12 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

An early draft was presented at a symposium “Film Policy in Transition: Globalization, Digitization, and the Rise of Protectionism” held in King’s College, London, May 2017. The authors thank the organizers and audience at the conference. Data collection was supported by research funds of Lingnan University and Hong Kong Baptist University.


  • CEPA (Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement)
  • Chinese film policy
  • Hong Kong cinema
  • The Mermaid
  • The Taking of Tiger Mountain 3D


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