Chinese company Wanda has announced it will buy AMC, the second-largest theater chain in the USA, increasing fears that the Chinese Communist Party is expanding its influence globally as part of a media takeover.
“Beijing is investing heavily in projecting its “soft power,” or cultural influence, by boosting Chinese state media’s presence abroad, including the USA, where the Chinese government has also run advertisements in New York’s Times Square,” reports USA Today
Wanda’s acquisition of AMC increases concerns that Chinese-style censorship of politically controversial movies may become commonplace in the United States.
“We have no plan whatsoever to promote Chinese movies in the U.S. market,” said Wang Jianlin, Chairman and President of Wanda.
Billionaire Jianlin, the 15th richest person in China according to Forbes
, is also a “Communist Party member, who sits on the nation’s top advisory council.”
However, box office money from the Chinese market is already influencing movie industry titans in America to tone down negative portrayals of China itself.
During the 2009 production of Red Dawn
, a re-make of the 1984 classic which featured Soviet troops invading America, producers changed the identity of the villains after initially having agreed to portray the bad guys as Chinese troops.
When distributors became nervous about the film harming profits from Chinese movie-goers, MGM decided to ditch Chinese soldiers in favor of North Korean invaders.
“As a result, the filmmakers now are digitally erasing Chinese flags and military symbols from “Red Dawn,” substituting dialogue and altering the film to depict much of the invading force as being from North Korea, an isolated country where American media companies have no dollars at stake,” reported the L.A. Times
Despite being in the can for years, the movie has been delayed and will only be released at the end of this year – absent the Chinese troops.
“Around the time MGM first delayed the release of Red Dawn, a Chinese newspaper called the Global Times expressed concerns that the film would demonize their state and its citizens (thanks in part to certain leaked images from the set). Evidently, this may have been a factor in scaring off potential distributors who were apprehensive about what effect their involvement with the film would have on future dealings with China,” writes Chris Schrader.
Undue Chinese Communist Party influence on the U.S. movie industry and the media in general is just one of numerous sectors where concern is growing about the authoritarian country’s projection of its “soft power.”
In 2010, China launched CNC, a global news channel run by Xinhua, the state news agency. The launch was seen
as a test of “Beijing’s ability to adjust its propaganda machine.”
The Obama administration recently gave Beijing the green light
to buy up U.S. oil and gas deposits worth billions of dollars, with the companies involved mostly or wholly owned by the ruling Communist Party.
“As a result, the filmmakers now are digitally erasing Chinese flags and military symbols from “Red Dawn,” substituting dialogue and altering the film to depict much of the invading force as being from North Korea, an isolated country where American media companies have no dollars at stake,” reported the L.A. Times.