HONG KONG - Asia's film award shows cannot agree on much. They disagree as to where Asia is and even on what counts as an Asian movie. But, significantly, they all include China in the mix.

That's smart as that's where the money is. And how well the China card is played may determine which red carpet shows will sink or swim.

All three of the shows that include 'Asia' in their title and claim some kind of pan-regional relevance have been on shaky ground for a few years now.

Seated in Australia, the Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSAs) were backed by the government of the state of Queensland for the first six years of their existence and held in the seaside convention and surfing town of Gold Coast.

But as that support became more begrudging, the show came close to curtains. Organizers warned that the show might have to relocate abroad in alternate years in order to survive. Fortunately, the Brisbane City Council stepped in with a three-year deal. The seventh show takes place this week (Dec. 12).

In Hong Kong, the Asian Film Awards (AFAs) have also been running for seven years as a glittery accompaniment to the FilMart tradeshow, the HAF co-production market and the Hong Kong Film Festival in March each year. What the show has sometimes lacked in behind-the-scenes organization it has made up for in star power as its geographical location and adjacency to the spring tradeshows bring in senior executives and brand-name celebrities.

Now, however, Hong Kong's Film Development Council, which channeled close to $1 million a year through the non-profit HKIFF Society to the AFAs, is turning off the tap. The FDC told Variety that technically speaking it has not rejected the AFAs; rather, it has not received an application from the awards show. That is a bureaucratic nicety, as behind the scenes the HKIFFS may have been told not to bother filling out the paperwork.

HKIFFS executive director Roger Garcia says he expects to be able to fill much of the gap for the 2014 event with corporate sponsorship. But it is scarcely a secret that both the AFAs and APSAs have held discussions with several Chinese cities about moving their events into China. None bore fruit. And both the AFAs and the APSAs have toyed with the idea of alternating between their home base and an overseas venue, in a fashion mimicking the peripatetic European Film Awards.

"We were looking at outreach initiatives into the growth cities beyond Beijing and Shanghai," says APSA chief executive Maxine Williamson, who says the APSAs are also keen to expand their broadcast footprint. "But these things are tricky as you want to retain ownership and cultural control."

"There may be a benefit to not being in the epicenter of Hong Kong or China. Sometimes it's good to be away from the politics; we can be more like Switzerland," says Williamson.

Having for many years been the rockiest of the three, the Asia Pacific Film Festival awards now looks like the comeback kid. Only last year the more than half century old APFF, which each year -- when it is not cancelled -- moves to a different city, was scheduled to make its first-ever visit to mainland China. However, its September 2012 port call in Shanghai was abruptly halted in July for political reasons. Chinese authorities are understood to have balked when they discovered that the APFF's secretariat is based in Taiwan, the island territory that China considers a rebel province.

Thanks to the intervention of Hong Kong-based actor, producer and entrepreneur Eric Tsang, the event somewhat fortuitously landed at the Venetian casino and hotel complex in Macau with a show rescheduled for mid-December. The Macau "Special Administrative Region" is far enough away for mainland officials not to worry about the APFF's Taiwan ties but still close enough to China be able to attract mainland Chinese TV sponsors.

(Also, the cavernous Venetian loves awards shows and has the capacity to put one on speedily. This July it threw its coffers and its doors open for the second time to the Indian International Film Academy (IIFA) awards, which had planned to go to South Africa but switched when the dwindling health of Nelson Mandela threatened to overshadow the Bollywood pageant.)

Now, for the moment at least, the APFF is sticking with the Venetian and Macau and will return to hold its awards show on Dec. 15 with the likes of Cannes' Christian Jeune and "Infernal Affairs" producer Nansun Shi on the jury.

Last year's APFF was passably glitzy, but almost completely devoid of buzz, PR build-up or much of a flesh-and-bone audience. That may not matter if the target audience is on TV, but quite what their purpose is none of the shows has fully worked out.

Different definitions of the Asia Pacific region and interpretations of what constitutes Asian content mean that the rival festivals and award shows claiming to be Asian each arrive at different lists.

The AFAs say they use a United Nations definition of the region as all territories "East of the Suez," thus including Israel and Lebanon but excluding Palestine and Egypt and omitting Australia, New Zealand and Oceania.

The APSAs say their definition is based on U.N., Unesco and Asian Broadcasting Union terms. It includes Egypt, Palestine, Australia, New Zealand and most of the Pacific islands.

APFF is different again and relies on more than a dozen submitting organizations in numerous territories, which may or may not have anything to send in a particular year. It notably includes Moscow, which is West of the Urals and is by most standard geographical definitions firmly in Europe.