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.
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.