Stung by unflattering portrayals in three American movies, China has issued a ban on cooperation with the Hollywood studios that produced them, film executives said today.

In a memo issued by the Ministry of Radio, Film and Television, Chinese authorities singled out "Seven Years in Tibet" (Columbia TriStar), "Kundun" (Disney) and "Red Corner" (MGM/United Artists) as films that "viciously attack China {and} hurt Chinese people's feelings."

"Although . . . all kinds of efforts have been made, those three American companies are still pushing out above films," the memo states. "In order to protect Chinese national overall interests, it has been decided that all business cooperation with these three companies to be ceased temporarily without exception."

"Seven Years in Tibet," now in U.S. theaters, and "Kundun," scheduled for release at Christmas, both re count the life of exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama, and portray in brutal terms China's military takeover of Tibet in the early '50s. "Red Corner," which opened in more than 2,000 American theaters today, stars Richard Gere as an American businessman falsely accused of murder in Beijing. The film's ominous tag line: "Leniency for those who confess, severity for those who resist."

Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America, said he received the memo through his group's Singapore office last week and sent it on to the studios. The memo, dated Sept. 29, was addressed to various Chinese film offices such as the China Film Archives, the Shanghai Film Festival Office and the China Film Corp.

Chinese Embassy spokesman Yu Shuning said: "These films are full of inaccuracies. That's why they are not popular within China. They are so biased against China, that's why Chinese audiences will not welcome these films."

But Disney spokesman John Dreyer said his company has yet to see the document. "No one in our company has heard it or seen about it, other than through the press," he said. "We're continuing to do business in China, continuing to explore new business in China, and we intend to keep doing that." Of the three studios, Disney has the most extensive interests there, including plans for a possible theme park and film-related consumer products currently sold in Chinese department stores. China warned Disney last November that "Kundun" could hurt the company's business prospects in the country.

Since then, Disney has worked to remain in China's good graces, even hiring former secretary of state Henry Kissinger for advice. Disney CEO Michael Eisner was among the contingent of Hollywood moguls who attended the White House dinner for Chinese President Jiang Zemin this week.

Executives at MGM and Columbia TriStar said they had seen little or no effect on their business in China -- which is minimal in any event -- thus far. "We're taking it as business as usual. We will continue to offer our films to the Chinese, but the pace of business there is very slow," said Tony Manne, executive vice president of international marketing and distribution at Columbia TriStar. China has accepted only two Columbia TriStar films in the past few years for import, "Bad Boys" and "Jumanji." It recently rejected the hit science fiction film "Men in Black."

An MGM spokesman confirmed that Chinese officials met with studio executives last week in an unsuccessful attempt to have the studio postpone the opening of "Red Corner," which came during Jiang's visit to the United States. As for the ban, a studio official who spoke on condition of anonymity said: "Who knows if they will enforce it? The way things work over there, negotiations are incredibly protracted. They could not cooperate with you and you wouldn't even know it."

Under a Chinese quota, only 10 American-made films per year may be imported. While the memo states that the latest ban is "temporary," it gives no indication of what that means. The memo specifically bans film imports from the three studios as well as film or television co-productions or "other new cooperation projects."

Valenti said he believed the animosity from China would fade. "Right now I think things are in a sour mood, but I'm urging people to be patient, to be calm, to avoid confrontation," he said in an interview from Washington. "Let's let time heal this, and it will."