A wish calledWanda flies in­toHol­ly­wood

How­ever, these in­vest­ment ini­tia­tives are just a realty com­pany’s com­mer­cial moves against the back­ground of China’s eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion.

China Daily (USA) - - VIEWS - The au­thor is a writer with China Daily. zhangyuchen@chi­nadaily.com.cn

AChi­nese realty ty­coon’s buy­ing spree in theUS en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try has touched some Amer­i­can politi­cians’ nerves. In its lat­est move, DalianWanda Group an­nounced its $1 billion ac­qui­si­tion of Dick Clark Pro­duc­tions, a com­pany which has or­ga­nized many award cer­e­monies in­clud­ing the Golden Globe and Bill­board­Mu­sic awards.

The real es­tate con­glom­er­ate spent $2.6 billion to ac­quire AMC En­ter­tain­ment, the sec­ond-largest cin­ema chain in theUnited States, in 2012, aside from in­vest­ing bil­lions of dol­lars in stu­dios, theme parks and dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing. Wanda’s ex­pan­sion, how­ever, is not re­stricted to theUnited States’ mar­ket; it cov­ers Europe and Aus­tralia, too.

Some US politi­cians are cry­ing wolf over the in­flu­ence of Chi­nese cap­i­tal in Hol­ly­wood pro­duc­tions while some US law­mak­ers seek stricter rules to stop China’s “cul­tural in­va­sion”. How­ever, these in­vest­ment ini­tia­tives are just a realty com­pany’s com­mer­cial moves against the back­ground of China’s eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion.

Wanda chiefWang Jian­lin’s ad­dress toHol­ly­wood last month, mainly on the prospects of China’s movie mar­ket in the com­ing years, should free crit­ics of their un­nec­es­sary anx­i­ety about the mo­tive be­hind his pur­chase of Hol­ly­wood stu­dios.

As the largest movie mar­ket after theUS, China has seen con­tin­u­ous an­nual in­crease in box of­fice, with last year’s fig­ure ex­ceed­ing 44 billion yuan ($6.5 billion), up 50 per­cent com­pared with 2014. It is es­ti­mated the Chi­nese movie mar­ket will be worth $10 billion in 2018 and, sub­se­quently, sur­pass theUS as the largest film mar­ket.

The huge de­mand in China’s movie mar­ket will have to be met with good con­tent, for which Hol­ly­wood has to use cre­ativ­ity, which in turn will help it rein­vent it­self. Also, Chi­nese funds will fa­cil­i­tate the ad­di­tion of Chi­nese fac­tors to movies and even­tu­ally help pro­duc­tions make more prof­its.

With China’s econ­omy trans­form­ing from in­vest­ment-driven to con­sump­tion-led growth, Wanda has ac­cel­er­ated its di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion from the hous­ing mar­ket to other sec­tors. In an in­ter­viewin Septem­ber, Wang warned about the risk of the grow­ing bub­ble in the hous­ing mar­ket thanks to the skyrocketing hous­ing prices, es­pe­cially in the first- and sec­ondtier cities.

There­fore, peo­ple who are wor­ried about a Chi­nese cul­tural in­va­sion ofHol­ly­wood have no rea­son to do. Ac­cord­ing toWorld Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion rules, China’s cur­rent quota re­stricts for­eign movie im­ports to 34 ti­tles a year on a rev­enue-shar­ing ba­sis. And even though it will open up fur­ther in 2017-18, qual­ity will still de­cide the fate of a movie in the mar­ket. And that is pre­cisely why some do­mes­tic “black horses” have beat­enHol­ly­wood block­busters at the box of­fice in the past.

More­over, Wanda’s ex­pan­sion in the global en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try will cre­ate more jobs. For in­stance, Wanda’s joint ven­ture of Qing­daoMovieMetropo­lis prom­ises 40 per­cent re­bate on some movies and TV pro­duc­tions pro­vided they have Chi­nese el­e­ments along with two other re­quire­ments. The QMM, once it fully opens in 2018, will need pro­fes­sional man­age­ment and tal­ent mo­bil­ity sim­i­lar to Hol­ly­wood.

Wanda’s en­ter­tain­ment move is purely com­mer­cial, and it should be seen as such.

Trump has also sug­gested with­draw­ing US troops from Ja­pan if Tokyo does not pay more for the cost of host­ing US mil­i­tary forces.

Tokyo pays nearly 200 billion yen ($1.9 billion) a year, or about 75 per­cent of the costs, for the 50,000US troops sta­tioned in Ja­pan. And Ja­panese De­fenseMin­is­ter To­momi Inada said on Fri­day that was “enough”.

That stance is per­haps bol­stered by the fact that Ja­pan’s 30-year nu­clear agree­ment with theUS will ex­pire in July 2018. Under the agree­ment, theUS has ap­proved nu­clear fuel ex­ports and the use of plu­to­nium in Ja­panese nu­clear power plants under the con­di­tion that Ja­pan does not de­velop a nu­clear weapons arse­nal.

Up to now, Ja­pan has taken its al­liance with the US as the linch­pin of its for­eign and se­cu­rity poli­cies.

Since tak­ing of­fice in De­cem­ber 2012, Abe has danced to the tune of US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama. The two coun­tries re­vised their guide­lines for de­fense co­op­er­a­tion last year, with Ja­pan am­bi­tious to take on a more ro­bust in­ter­na­tional role. And Ja­pan’s newse­cu­rity leg­is­la­tion, which her­alds a his­tor­i­cal change in the coun­try’s de­fense pos­ture, took ef­fect in­May. The newlaws en­able Ja­pan to ex­er­cise the right to col­lec­tive de­fense, such as mo­bi­liz­ing its Self-De­fense Forces to de­fend an ally, namely the US.

The me­dia in Ja­pan have ad­vised Abe to con­vince Trump of the im­por­tance of main­tain­ing the de­ter­rence power of the US mil­i­tary’s pres­ence in Ja­pan by play­ing the China card.

The Ja­pan Times said the US co­op­er­at­ing and co­or­di­nat­ing with Asian na­tions is cru­cial in deal­ing with “China’s in­creas­ing as­sertive­ness” in the South and East China seas.

The Asahi Shim­bun said China con­tin­ues to pur­sue “ag­gres­sive mar­itime ex­pan­sion” in the South China Sea and other ar­eas, while the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea is forg­ing ahead with pro­grams to de­velop nu­clear arms and mis­siles.

“If, under such cir­cum­stances, Trump pur­sues for­eign and se­cu­rity pol­icy agen­das formed and de­fined by parochial views and hap­haz­ard ne­go­ti­a­tions, the re­gional or­der could col­lapse,” the news­pa­per said, call­ing Abe to “do his best” to ex­plain con­vinc­ingly these re­al­i­ties to Trump.

But ob­servers be­lieve that Trump’s zero public ser­vice ex­pe­ri­ence means the Ja­panese gov­ern­ment’s tra­di­tional chan­nels with the US Repub­li­can Party are use­less.

Even worse, the Abe ad­min­is­tra­tion is said to have no idea of whom to turn to for ac­cess to Trump’s in­ner cir­cle.

James L. Schoff, a se­nior as­so­ciate in the Asia Pro­gram at the Carnegie En­dow­ment for In­ter­na­tional Peace, pre­dicted that the worst out­come for Ja­pan would be a sense of strate­gic aban­don­ment with Trump as pres­i­dent.

This pos­si­bil­ity is what is vex­ing the Abe ad­min­is­tra­tion.


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