Many American entertainment stars are on the Chinese government’s blacklist because of opinions they hold on such issues as Taiwan and Tibet. These celebrities are not allowed to make money in China, and their careers in the United States are also affected. When dealing with those stars on the blacklist, the tactics are to: “Kill one, and thus, scare a hundred.” China has since expanded its influence on Hollywood through commercial channels, and the American film industry has consequently adopted self-censorship.
If you express different opinions on the issue of Taiwan and Tibet, your money-making path in China will be totally blocked.
In June 2016, American music star Lady Gaga released her photo with the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on social media and broadcast a two-minute conversation between the two on world peace, justice, mental health, humanity, and other issues. This angered the Chinese government, which ordered Chinese websites and media to take down all of Lady Gaga’s songs in retaliation.
Selena Gomez, the American female singer, was forced to cancel her concert scheduled in Guangzhou and Shanghai in August 2016 because she had uploaded a photo of herself with the Dalai Lama in 2014 on a social networking site.
Prior to that, many musicians on the America music scene were forced to cancel their performances in China.
In July 2015, after a member of the California rock band Maroon 5 congratulated the Dalai Lama on his birthday through Twitter, the band was forced to cancel its scheduled concert performance in Shanghai that September.
Also in September of the same year, the American rock performer John Bon Jovi was also forced to cancel his tour in China. The British Financial Times newspaper quoted the reason from informed sources: The Chinese Ministry of Culture found Bon Jovi using a photo of the Dalai Lama at a concert held in Taiwan in 2010.
The Chinese government is tough on the Hollywood movie stars who dare to touch upon the issue of Tibet independence.
The film Seven Years in Tibet, starring Hollywood star Brad Pitt, describes the friendship between Austrian mountaineers and the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, and records the history of the People’s Liberation Army’s entry into Tibet. The film was banned by the Chinese authorities after it was released in 1997, because they believe that it indicated support for Tibet’s independence. Brad Pitt was also banned from entering China for many years until 2014.
Go against China and your career will suffer the well-known case of the famous Hollywood star Richard Gere, chairman of the International Campaign for Tibet. Richard Gere is a devout Tibetan Buddhist who often publicly criticizes the Chinese government’s suppression of Tibetans and sponsors the cause of human rights in Tibet.
Richard Gere’s acting career in the United States was severely hampered. In April 2017, the Hollywood Reporter published an interview with him saying that Hollywood is reluctant to offend the Chinese government, which controls the world’s second-largest movie market. Some people refused to invest in Richard Gere’s film to avoid making the Chinese feel uncomfortable.
Even an independent film that has never been released in China excludes Richard Gere. Two weeks before the work began, a Chinese director called and apologized that if he cooperated with Richard Gere, the director’s family would never be allowed to leave China, and the director could no longer work.
China has expanded its influence on Hollywood through commercial channels. In 2012, the Dalian Wanda group of China acquired AMC, the second largest cinema company in the U.S, for US$2.6 billion dollars. In 2016, the Wanda group spent another US$3.5 billion to acquire Legendary Entertainment.
In October 2016, Alibaba Pictures, a Chinese e-commerce giant, also announced that it would acquire part of the equity of Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners, and Ali Pictures would also send a representative as the board of directors and participate in the decisions of the company’s major issues.
The Chinese government will be able to exert control behind the scenes through these Chinese-U.S. acquisitions.
Translated by Ying Ming