US pundits have started to feel uncomfortable about the growing appearance of Chinese moviemakers’ logos on the opening credits of Hollywood blockbusters. Dalian Wanda’s ambitious acquisitions of AMC, Carmike Cinemas and Legendary Entertainment and Alibaba’s tie-up with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners are adding more concerns.
The rise of Chinese investment in the Hollywood movie industry has even raised alarm in Congress. Sixteen members of Congress in late September called for close scrutiny of Chinese investment in the US entertainment and media industries in an open letter, which cited Wanda’s acquisitions, and accused these efforts of exerting “propaganda controls on American media.”
China and the US have established the world’s most important economic partnership in the past three decades. The structure of their economic ties has been transforming as China is ramping up in the global value chain.
China’s booming movie market indicates the Chinese people’s burgeoning desire for entertainment, which is greatly appealing to Hollywood.
The desire to make profits from a massive potential Chinese box office has prompted US moviemakers to adjust themselves to this current. Meanwhile, Chinese entertainment giants have taken the initiative and sought cooperation with their US counterparts. These are natural responses under the principles of a market economy.
Cultural and entertainment products are not just moneymakers, but also embedded with the power of changing minds. Their ideological traits can produce deep effects on people’s thoughts, changing the basic values and characteristics of a society.
Ideology is making a deeper dent in China-US relations, nurturing an increasing mistrust between the two countries, because both countries have disparate understandings about a lot of core issues, including political architecture, democracy and freedom. The rivalries between them will not be limited to economic statistics, military forces and diplomatic skills.
As we discuss the coexistence of cooperation and rivalry between China and the US in this century, we need to observe the trajectory from another perspective.
China and the US will face unprecedented challenges in their relationship. How they can get along with each other under the circumstances of rising tensions due to ideological divergences awaits more insightful and creative solutions. It is necessary that both countries, especially their leaderships, realize where the major threat to their future rests.
Compared with disputes in the business and trade sphere, gaps in ideology are the most difficult to bridge.