Hollywood's latest summer blockbuster, 'Men in Black 3', opened simultaneously in the United States and China last weekend, topping the box office in each country.
But Chinese movie-goers left their cinemas 13 minutes earlier than their American counterparts after the dead hand of Beijing's censors intervened: all the Chinese baddies in the film were removed.
The makers of 'Men in Black 3' might not have realised that setting parts of the film in New York's Chinatown would cause offence. But the Chinese government apparently saw plenty of political resonance in one scene where Will Smith, playing a US secret agent, erases the memories of a group of Chinese bystanders.
"This could have been a hint on the use of internet censorship to maintain social stability," said China's Southern Daily newspaper.
Meanwhile, two other scenes, where unsavoury aliens disguise themselves as Chinese restaurant workers, were also judged to have cast China in a bad light.
Such micromanagement by the government is not new. Scenes showing a Chinese pirate in 'Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End' were cut. (© Daily Telegraph, London)