Will China soon control American movies?
There is growing concern that Chinese government influence over Western media organizations will lead to direct censorship or pressure to self-censor content to Beijing’s liking. This concern will only grow due to a surge of Chinese investment in the United States. Over the past five years, Chinese investment here has grown from $2 billion per year to an estimated $20 billion this year. This growth is significant given that Chinese companies are effectively controlled — whether through state ownership or strict direction — by Beijing.China uses extremely soft power. If you displease China, you lose out on deals. If you do something China likes, you are rewarded. This is how corruption works in American government too: you do a "good job" and the Saudis or Goldman Sachs pay you $500,000 for a speech, or in the latter case offer you a lucrative job. Trying to root out this type of corruption in government is a far easier task than fighting it in the private market. If China wants to pay Hollywood money to make pro-China or pro-CCP movies (often superficially), how can the government violate the first amendment? How is it different from GM paying to have the Transformers turn into GM cars?
It should be no surprise that a major focus of China’s investment in the United States is media companies, which produce the news and entertainment that so often shape our understanding of the world. One Chinese company, Dalian Wanda, has purchased the Hollywood movie studio Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 billion and is now seeking a 49 percent stake in Paramount Pictures, as well as purchases of America’s two largest movie theater chains: AMC and Carmike Cinemas. Wanda’s goal is to control 20 percent of the global box office by 2020 — and it may reach that threshold sooner. This doesn’t include other Chinese investments in film studios, which would push the total share of Chinese box office control even higher.
Why should we be concerned? By controlling the financing and distribution of American movies, and subjecting them to censorship to gain access to the Chinese market, Beijing could effectively dictate what is and isn’t made — providing powerful control over America’s greatest cultural exports.
We have already seen examples of studios editing movie content to appease Chinese censors, such as “Mission: Impossible III,” “Skyfall,” “World War Z” and the remakes of “The Karate Kid” and “Red Dawn.” A recent report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission noted that “China views film as a component of social control: in a 2014 speech, President Xi [Jinping] reaffirmed Mao Zedong’s dictate that ‘[Chinese] art serve politics.’ Through strict regulations governing film content, the CCP’s concerns are positioned above all other interests.”
If it is wrong for an American to make a pro-Chinese movie because they receive Chinese money, what if they receive no money? How to determine the chicken and the egg? What is the bigger threat, China getting Hollywood to turn Chinese villains into North Koreans, or Hollywood self-censoring itself and turning Arab villains into White Christian Americans? If the former is a sign of foreign influence that requires government intervention, what about the latter?
What if the SJWs think Hollywood is too white? Isn't rampant racism and bigotry more problematic than a little Chinese influence?
Since the Cathedral whipped itself into an irrational fear over cartoon frogs, it's not hard to imagine them whipping up fear over Chinese influence. They may have to whip that sentiment into war fervor though, if they want to avoid both left and right using the opportunity to take down Hollywood.