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US politicizing investment from China in Hollywood

By Leng Shumei (Global Times)    13:22, October 14, 2016

US bias, concerns only interfere with creative process: analysts

US concern over rising Chinese investment in the Hollywood entertainment industry is unnecessary as it only serves to politicize normal communication between the two countries, analysts said.

Last month, about 16 US lawmakers raised concerns about Chinese investments in the US entertainment and media industries in a letter to Congress, calling for an expansion of the government process to review foreign investments in the country, The New York Times reported.

The letter, dated September 15, referred to Chinese property and entertainment giant Dalian Wanda Group's acquisition of leading Hollywood film producer Legendary Entertainment for as much as $3.5 billion and its previous purchase of AMC Theaters in 2012 for $2.6 billion.

Li Haidong, a professor at China Foreign Affairs University's Institute of International Relations, criticized the lawmakers for politicizing normal cultural communication between China and the US, which exposes the US' lack of confidence and psychological vulnerability when dealing with China.

"The overall strength and foreign influence of the US are dwindling due to its continuous involvement in wars, its weak economic recovery and politics," Li said, adding that China was viewed by the US elite as creating all these problems.

Li's views were echoed by Shi Chuan, vice president of the Shanghai Film Association, saying that concerns that Chinese ideology was infringing on the US was a cultural version of the China Threat theory.

"At present, China cannot influence entertainment and film content," Shi said, adding the bias and concerns would only interfere with the creative process.

A Los Angeles Times Op-Ed published on October 7 warned that, in line with the increase in Chinese capital and the obsession with the booming of the Chinese film market, Hollywood would end up letting China decide which movies to make.

The US has been using films to spread its values to the world for over 100 years.

"In fact, some US films used to malign China and distort facts about China to cater to its audience," Li said.

Li said taking the Chinese into consideration in filmmaking would help the US audience learn about China, which would then lead to better relations.

China's dilemma

Wanda Chairman Wang Jianlin told CNN in September that the lawmakers were "unnecessarily concerned" and announced that he was in talks to buy Golden Globe Awards producer Dick Clark Productions.

Another Chinese billionaire and owner of China's e-commerce giant Alibaba Jack Ma on Sunday also announced his acquisition of a minority stake in Amblin Partners whose chairman is Steven Spielberg, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

While Chinese companies successfully entered Hollywood and US movies continue to be screened in China, Chinese movies face a different situation overseas.

Domestically made live-action animation Monster Hunt, which made Chinese box office history in July 2015 with box office receipts of 2.44 billion yuan ($356.7 million), earned less than $30,000 in North America in January this year.

Most of the popular Chinese movies in North America are martial arts movies, including Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon by Ang Lee in 2000 and Kung Fu Hustle by Steven Chow in 2004, according to Xinhua.

"There is still a huge cultural difference between China and the US," Yin Hong, executive vice-president of Tsinghua University's School of Journalism and Communication, told the Global Times.

Yin noted that after watching US movies for decades, Chinese people had already accepted and been affected by US culture.

"On the other hand, China is still seeking for a proper way to promote its culture and communicate with the world," Yin said. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Yuan Can, Bianji)

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