In January, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a US think tank, published a podcast examining China’s influence on Hollywood productions, arguing that China’s censors have secretly affected and influenced Hollywood and the global filmmaking industry. According to the podcast:
January 6, 2021 Since 1997, China has leveraged its market to exert growing influence over exported U.S. films, censoring content that could cast China in a negative light and demanding the addition of scenes that glorify the country. Now, as China’s box office overtakes North America’s as the largest in the world, Hollywood has transitioned from accepting this censorship to preemptively creating films and scenes that will please Chinese censors. In this episode, two expert guests examine what China hopes to gain from this strategy and what the implications are for the world’s premier storytelling venue as it accedes to the wishes of an authoritarian government.
Go here to listen to the podcast.
In the podcast, PEN America director James Trager argued that 2021 is a critical year for the China-Hollywood relationship because this is the year that the Chinese box office is expected to surpass the American box office as the most important box office in the world. In August 2020, PEN America published a detailed report on how China is extending its influence over the global locus for filmmaking in the United States. According to the PEN report:
Hollywood is an important bellwether. The Chinese government, under Xi Jinping especially, has heavily emphasized its desire to ensure that Hollywood filmmakers—to use their preferred phrase—“tell China’s story well.” Within the pages of this report, we detail how Hollywood decision-makers and other filmmaking professionals are increasingly making decisions about their films—the content, casting, plot, dialogue, and settings—based on an effort to avoid antagonizing Chinese officials who control whether their films gain access to the booming Chinese market.
Read the full report here.
Recent GIOR reporting on China’s influence operations in the West has included:
- In September, we reported that Chinese corrosive capital is used to gain access to critical assets, facilitate elite capture, and distort local discourse on China in Slovakia and Czechia.
- In August, we reported that China would increase its influence and interference efforts in the run-up to the German parliamentary elections in November.
- In August, we published a GIOR investigation exposing how China uses business councils, lobby groups, and friendship associations in Europe to foster European elites sympathetic to China.