han-sanping__140107142000-275x157Chinese media is reporting that influential executive Han Sanping has officially said he has stepped down as chairman of China Film Group. I reported exclusively in early January that there were management shifts at the top ranks of the Chinese film business, notably that a decision had been made around January 1 for Han to leave his post at CFG. Han himself has now told local press that he has stepped aside, saying that at 60 he has reached retirement age. Han is expected to go on to run a large film fund and act as a consultant to CFG. The state-owned group controls distribution in China and is the key to getting foreign movies into the country since it alone has the right to import them. It is also the biggest producer of local films and co-productions. In his role as chairman of CFG, Han has been referred to as the “gatekeeper” between Hollywood and China. His power and influence have been described as that of Jack Valenti, Lew Wasserman, and Steven Spielberg all rolled into one. However, in January, I was told that Han had largely become a figurehead and hadn’t been involved in major policymaking for “more than a year.” He will be succeeded by CFG deputy chairman LA Peikang and vice chairman Jiao Hongfen, both of whom are already known to Hollywood.