IMPORTANT: Members of a select House in China met with the Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger and later with a group of Hollywood filmmakers and executives on Wednesday, amid concerns about the industry’s business practices in the fight with Beijing.
President of the President, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), joined by nine other members, including his ranking member, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL).
According to a source close to the committee, the hour-long meeting was “constructive and candid.”
Gallagher expressed concerns about censorship, and Iger spoke about “the relationship with the Chinese Communist Party and how it has changed,” among other topics, the source said.
Iger joined other Disney executives, and they talked about how “the end can’t change their stories,” the source said, adding that the executives were impressed with how they tried to navigate the cultural and political demands of Chinese censors. “They have to accept the value judgment and not always get it right,” said the principle, which sometimes obeys the study, sometimes not.
The private group was formed with Iger as lawyers from both sides focus on China’s influence on American business and culture. There have been some high-profile examples of Hollywood members on Capitol Hill in recent years in which they published films, or changed their stories, to appear to Chinese censors.
In 2020, Gallagher was among the advocates who previously sent a letter to then-Disney CEO Bob Chapek. a mule and concerns over Disney’s work with the authorities in Xinjiang, a region where Uyghur Muslims are held in detention camps. The US government said the Chinese had committed genocide against an ethnic population.
Gallagher raised the issue again at the meeting, the source said, and Iger talked about how measures were being put in place to make sure such a situation did not happen again. Also discussed are the types of requests that the film studio receives from the Chinese authorities.
Gallagher said he wanted Iger to testify on Capitol Hill at some point, but it’s unclear if he can yet.
Disney’s global policy in the countries where it operates is that “we seek to share our stories in the original form as we and the artists involved created them. If we make changes due to legal or other considerations, they will be as limited as possible. We do not edit where we believe the storytelling In which case we will not distribute the content in that forum.
Disney has a large footprint in China beyond movie releases, including Shanghai Disneyland, which opened in 2016. The park is majority-owned by the Shanghai Shendi Group, with Disney having a 43% stake, according to corporate documents.
Other members of the meeting included Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-FL), Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-IA), Rep. John Moolenaar (R-MI), Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI), Rep. (D-NY) and Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA).
Later on Wednesday, five members of the House committees and 17 industry representatives gathered in West Hollywood for an off-the-record session in which Hollywood figures shared their experiences of doing business in China. A group of filmmakers, executives and producers, as well as delegates from academia and industry associations, but the names of the companies were not disclosed to allow for frank discussion.
Producer Chris Fenton, who served as an unpaid adviser on the project, said the meeting touched on film quotas, China’s communication revenue, forced exchange of edits, premeditated censorship and “things that go beyond China’s borders.”
Fenton said the goal was “to make it as broad a perspective on the situation as possible, and to make sure that the members got as full an education and an idea of the promises and pressures of everyone with respect to China.”
He added, “The idea is, ‘How do we unite in repelling the Edomites?’
In a recent op ed, Fenton wrote that the industry, at the center of culture and commerce, must work with advocates so “our community can help maintain those two vital links, helping to design the policies and regulations we can use to live with care.”
“Without healthy cooperation with Washington, I fear Hollywood will try to continue the status quo, as China continues to impose pressure on its mass market, forcing widespread industry compliance, as its domestic industry continues to rise, and tearing American movies out of theaters and smartphones; ” he wrote.
The House group also met with Silicon Valley executives on Thursday, and is scheduled to meet with Apple CEO Tim Cook on Friday.
The committee – the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party – held its first meeting in February, and there was an unusual bipartisan focus on issues over China’s influence.
Specifically in the face of the nation in February, Gallagher reported 60 minutes“I think we can have a productive conversation with companies that have substantial business interests in China, and we want to make sure that the power of the Chinese economy does not lure certain companies into delivering American goods.”
Legal experts have criticized self-censorship in the way movies are produced as a way to gain entry into China. One thing that created a stir when I followed for* Top Gun: Maverick Tom Cruise shows the character wearing a bomber jacket with two unequal flags, for Taiwan and Japan, with other symbols substituted. The flags were restored when the film was released last year, though not in China. When he was attorney general, William Barr was cited in the Marvel Studios case. Doctor Strangethe film’s main national character changed from a Tibetan monk to a Celtic one.