By Tenzin Sangmo
_Top Gun Maverick_ trailer without Taiwanese and Japanese flags. PC - manlymovie.net
DHARAMSHALA, Sept. 14: The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Hollywood to resist caving to Chinese censorship in order to gain access to the Chinese audience, reports Washington Free Beacon
. Pompeo was speaking to an audience of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)on Thursday.
He said movies are a large part of the lives of people around the world, praising Hollywood for being a symbol of American freedom and creativity. Pompeo lamentend the fact that China is eroding Hollywood’s freedom by setting the terms of the content of the movies in exchange for access to lucrative Chinese movie market.
American filmmakers have started openly altering original scripts to make past Beijing censors.
The 2012 remake of Red Dawn changed the original Soviet and Cuban military invasion of the United States to a Chinese invasion, and then under pressure from Beijing, MGM, altered the identity of the invading troops in post-production from Chinese military forces to North Korean troops.
The film was not released in China despite making the changes.
In July, Taiwanese and Japanese flag patches from Tom Cruise’s flight jacket in the new “Top Gun: Maverick” trailer, seen as a move to appease Chinese censors, were removed.
China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province and pushes for “reunification”. It has been at loggerheads with Japan over sovereignty of Senkaku Islands currently under latter’s administration.
Pompeo explained that bending to Chinese censors prevents telling the truth about the authoritarian Chinese regime and that it enhances Chinese information operations and soft power activities.
He questioned whether a film like Seven Years in Tibet would be made today. The film depicts the experience of the Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer (played by Brad Pitt) in Tibet between 1944 and 1951 when Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) occupied Tibet.
Mike Gonzalez, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation in a podcast, published earlier this year, said American audiences are being submitted to Communist Party censorship that controls the Chinese box office, ranked no. 2 in the world with a revenue of about $8.6 billion annually compared to around $11 billion for the U.S. movie market.
“Films about Tibet or repression of Uighurs are no longer considered for production as it must be free of any characters or ideas opposed by the ruling Communist Party of China to access the Chinese market,” said Gonzalez.
He said American moviemakers should disclose whether films were influenced or censored by China as American audiences have the right to know which Hollywood studios.
The influence operations are coordinated at high levels and executed by a range of actors, such as the United Front Work Department, the Propaganda Ministry, and the Ministry of State Security, the civilian intelligence service.
The State Department plans to raise public awareness about Chinese influence in U.S. movies and television programming.
Pompeo concluded by urging Hollywood to live up to its legacy of acting as an agent for freedom of expression.