Hu Heping, Chinese Minister of Culture and Tourism and deputy head of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, and Ababu Namwamba, Kenya's cabinet secretary for Youth Affairs, Sports and the Arts signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to strengthen the ties between the two nations' industries, facilitate co-productions and boost film industry growth.
Of the MoU, Namwamba said: "We also want to see co-production arrangements between artists from the two countries and hope this can create better understanding between Kenya and China."
Timothy Owase, chief executive officer of the Kenya Film Commission, said Kenya seeks to leverage a partnership with China to unleash the full potential of its creative industry, which is a major employer of the country's youth.
WE SIGNED MoU with China on Film & Arts development with aim of tapping into ventures for our artists, filmmakers, producers, technicians to deliver high quality films & art products targeting global markets @AbabuNamwamba @CultureCentreKE @kenyafilmcomm @KFC pic.twitter.com/xE983h6CE1— PS Ismail Maalim (@IsmailMaalim19) August 15, 2023
Owase added that by harnessing technology and expertise from China, Kenyan filmmakers will be able to come up with world-class productions and generate sustainable revenues.
Mr Zhou PingJian, Chinese Ambassador to Kenya said: "This collaborative effort will see China working closely with Kenya to foster the film industry’s growth within the Kenyan landscape while simultaneously exploring opportunities to showcase Kenyan-produced films on an international stage."
Since 1978, the two countries have expanded their economic and investment agreements and China is currently Kenya's largest trading partner. However, journalists and analysts, both in Kenya and internationally, have criticised the economic relationship; particularly its imbalance as Kenya relies significantly on China for loans and products.
Both countries have strict censorship policies for film. The Kenya Film Commissioned banned the 2018 drama Rafiki due to "due to its homosexual theme and clear intent to promote lesbianism in Kenya contrary to the law and dominant values of the Kenyans" (via the Kenya Film Classification Board social media account). In 2019, one minute of footage from Bohemian Rhapsody, featuring two men kissing, was cut for the film's Chinese limited release.