Will Chinese Investment Still Flow Into Hollywood? Uncertainty at the End of 2016 as President-Elect Trump and China's Biggest Film Investor Both Talk Tough
In a question and answer period, following prepared comments for a December 10th, 2016 business forum (where he gave a speech about exporting Chinese culture), one of China's richest men - and the biggest mainland Chinese player in Hollywood - Wang Jianlin - acknowledged issuing a warning to the US President-elect about any re-balancing that disfavored Chinese media business investment in the US: "If something goes wrong, [...] 20,000-plus people might be out of jobs."
As a candidate, Donald Trump had threatened such a rebalancing - including 45% tariffs and a currency war with China - based on (outdated? and misleading?) claims that cheap Chinese labor was stealing U.S. jobs and that China was manipulating its currency in ways that disfavored U.S. businesses.
Shortly after the election, tensions between mainland China and the U.S. heightened as President-elect Trump accepted a congratulatory phone call from Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday Dec. 2, 2016, a move that ruffled feathers on the mainland as it marked a shift in four-decade old protocol (respecting China's claims over Taiwan). In subsequent tweets, President-elect Trump made it clear he wasn't too concerned about Chinese feelings or a nuanced interpretation of the Chinese reaction to what China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi characterized as a "小動作" ("Xiǎodòngzuò" or "little trick").
According to a transcript provided by his company, Wang Jianlin (the Chinese media tycoon who founded Wanda Group, and owns AMC Theaters, Legendary Pictures and a big chunk of Sony and Dick Clark Productions) responded to a question from the moderator at a weekend meeting of business leaders in Beijing by saying that on Friday Dec. 9th he had personally asked the chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America - former U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd - to relay a blunt message to Donald Trump: "[I]n the film and entertainment industry, you have to understand that English-language films are relying on the Chinese market for growth."