China's Richest Man Tells MPAA's Chris Dodd To Tell Donald Trump To Be Nice To China... Or Else

from the strange-bedfellows dept

I really have no idea what to make of this fairly odd story. The richest man in China, Wang Jianlin, has apparently deputized MPAA boss Chris Dodd as his messenger to Donald Trump on the issue of China. As you may have heard, China is currently "seriously concerned" about Donald Trump's decision to publicly question the "One China" policy held for decades by US officials, which accepts China's position that Taiwan is a "renegade province" rather than its own autonomous country. Whatever you think of this policy, the Trump administration seems to have approached it with something approximating a diplomatic sledgehammer.

You can find all sorts of articles discussing how China might retaliate if this moves forward, but perhaps the oddest is that Wang is using Chris Dodd as his mouthpiece to influence Trump. Wang owns AMC, the largest movie chain in the US, which is where that connection comes in -- but Wang also has strong ties to the Chinese government:
Wang, who is China’s richest man, is a former commander in the People’s Liberation Army, and a current delegate to the Chinese People’s National Congress, as well as a member of an advisory board to the Communist Party. Some of his current and former businesses are closely linked to the family of current president Xi Jinping, the New York Times noted last year.
And, of course, one of Chris Dodd's major focuses as head of the MPAA has been to open up the Chinese market to Hollywood films. And that leads us to Dodd suddenly being the spokesperson asked to deliver the message to Trump to knock it off with the China stuff... or perhaps AMC employees go hungry. Really.
Yesterday, I met with the president of Motion Picture Association of America who said he wants to meet with Mr. Trump and asked me what message I would like delivered. I told him to tell Mr. Trump that I have $10 billion of investments in the United States and more than 20,000 employees there who wouldn’t have anything to eat should things be handled poorly, and nothing else mattered. At least in the film and television industry, you must understand that the growth of English films depends on the Chinese market.
Of course, like many threats from Hollywood about "job losses," this one appears to be massively exaggerated. Yes, Hollywood is increasingly relying on China for boosting its record-breaking revenue increases (remember how piracy was killing movies? Me neither), but the idea that 20,000 employees will suddenly go hungry over this aspect of the dispute seems like little more than posturing. Either way, this is just another weird data point in a very weird year on the politics front.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2016 @ 10:59am

    No love for Trump but...

    Wang Jianlin can just go and fuck himself!

    You cannot to business in China without getting directly into bed with the government. So every player in China right now has already sold the fuck out.

    GM, Microsoft... just to name a couple!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2016 @ 3:50am

      Re:

      When I decided to get an Apple laptop, I ordered from Apple's site. When I got the FedEx tracking number, I saw that it was coming from Shanghai.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 14 Dec 2016 @ 11:06am

    We all laughed at the silly meme that "When you download MP3s, you're downloading COMMUNISM!"

    It turns out that when you way to watch movies in the theatre, you're paying a member of an advisory board to the Communist Party and former commander in the People’s Liberation Army.

    Perhaps there ARE some ideological differences between the RIAA and MPAA after all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      OldMugwump (profile), 14 Dec 2016 @ 11:32am

      China is not communist

      Please don't fall into the trap of confusing the name of China's ruling party with their ideology.

      China hasn't been communist for decades. It's more capitalist than the US.

      If China is pressing any ideology on the US, it's capitalism.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Roger Strong (profile), 14 Dec 2016 @ 11:42am

        Re: China is not communist

        Capitalist in economics, but still very much communist in politics.

        I've said here a couple times that rather than Mutual Assured Destruction, the US and China have agreed to meet in the middle at Authoritarian Capitalism.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2016 @ 11:55am

          Re: Re: China is not communist

          China, like the old USSR is socialist, and not communist. Socialism was meant to be a step on the way to real communism, but once a ruling elite became established, progress towards communism stopped.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Roger Strong (profile), 14 Dec 2016 @ 12:04pm

            Re: Re: Re: China is not communist

            That's unrealistic without recognizing wildly different forms of socialism.

            Sweden is VERY socialist by American standards, with its social system providing universal health care and tertiary education. And yet it's nothing like the political system of China or the Soviet Union.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            OldMugwump (profile), 14 Dec 2016 @ 12:35pm

            China, like the old USSR is socialist

            China is not socialist by any definition I'm aware of.

            Recently I had an exchange student (high school) from Beijing living with us for a year.

            I took him to the supermarket, and while we were waiting to check out, explained about the food stamps that were slowing the people in front of us.

            His eyes widened in amazement - "That would never happen in China!".

            The very concept that the government would give free money to people who didn't earn it was shocking to him.

            Socialist?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Andy, 14 Dec 2016 @ 6:17pm

              Re: China, like the old USSR is socialist

              Like most modern countries food stamps seem to be a crazy way to help the poor. Most if not all except America actually give people money direct into there bank accounts and make them responsible for buying there own food.

              Amazing that America is more communistic in many ways compared to most other countries where most people would absolutely refuse to allow the government to do as they are doing like stealing money from people and taking there land from them with minimal payments and where American citizens have no recourse in the court as it is too expensive.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2016 @ 6:16am

                Re: Re: China, like the old USSR is socialist

                Food stamps certainly are not the best way to help the poor, perhaps a living wage would be. Many people, when thinking of those who use government assistance, think they are lazy bums who look for handouts rather than looking for work. The majority of those on welfare are full time employees of some cheapass employer who pays the bare minimum allowed, some don't even pay minimum wage. Then they complain about not finding "qualified" personnel. What a bunch of morons. An increase in wages at the bottom of the spectrum would also improve the economy immediately thus helping everyone ... but let's just argue about whether we are commies or socialists, as if anyone can agree on wtf those terms actually mean. What are these other countries where the public absolutely refuses to allow their government to do bad things, just name a few.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2016 @ 11:01am

                  Re: Re: Re: China, like the old USSR is socialist

                  I like what you are saying, but doesn't increasing base wages cause inflation? Labor is an expense, so If business's costs go up, the price of the goods goes up no? I would think to keep inflation in check, you would need to get the money from someone and redistribute it right? So from whom do we take the money? The rich aren't going to give it up. The rich can use their money to protect their money. The poor don't give millions to the politicians campaigns, the rich do. The middle class? Then your just making more poor people. I'll have to give this some more thought, it doesn't appear as their is an easy answer eh?

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Wendy Cockcroft, 16 Dec 2016 @ 5:56am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: China, like the old USSR is socialist

                    There is little evidence to suggest that is true. I submit Seattle as evidence that raising wages for the poorest workers benefits all.

                    Consumers don't live in a vacuum, they work. When my own wage went up I spent more; I went out more, I bought new carpets etc. Basically, local businesses benefitted from my largesse because it was large enough to benefit them with.

                    Inflation isn't caused by giving people enough money to live on. As it is, we're subsidizing the rich by providing for their workers. On which planet is that either reasonable or fair?

                    One anti-wage increase argument goes along the lines of, "Why would you want to see the office junior receiving a wage that is close to your own?"

                    My response: "Don't rob workers of the wage they earned for the sake of the economy or because they might be able to look elsewhere for work (good luck with that!). And since the market is not in fact a sentient gestalt entity composed of supply and demand it won't provide so let's not be making a deity out of it. Money is like blood, it needs to circulate. When it doesn't, that's when we have problems."

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Wendy Cockcroft, 16 Dec 2016 @ 5:44am

                Re: Re: China, like the old USSR is socialist

                Andy, the word you're looking for is "authoritarian." Don't be surprised; land-snatching from the peasantry was a common practice back when the aristocracy ruled the roost. Why do you think there are so many diasporas from northern European countries? The Scots were subjected to the cruel Highland clearances to make room for sheep and the Irish were given a choice between dying of famine or emigrating. Free market enthusiasts describe it as "the market correcting itself" and it's why I bash neoliberalism, which is only a new iteration of mercantilism.

                Communism hadn't even been heard of back then. It doesn't matter who behaves badly; the end result is that the people are suffering due to the bad behaviour. Partisans will ignore your plight if it's their team that's doing it but the way I see it bad behaviour is bad behaviour and none of us should be on the receiving end.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Frozen Njal (profile), 15 Dec 2016 @ 4:19am

            Re: Re: Re: China is not communist

            They are Communist compared to the European socialist countries. It may not be a pure Communism, but it is far from socialism!

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          OldMugwump (profile), 14 Dec 2016 @ 12:29pm

          Re: Re: China is not communist

          That's not a bad summary.

          Tho in many ways the US is more authoritarian, and China more capitalist.

          (As long as you stay out of Chinese politics; then they rapidly clamp down on you. Outside of that, it's pretty much anything goes.)

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2016 @ 11:45am

        Re: China is not communist

        Explain yourself!

        Capitalism only deals with one thing. Citizens being able to own a Company vs them being owned by Governments. By that virtue, they usually get to make big decisions about it as well. Unless... you have regulation

        Regulation deals with telling a business what they can and cannot do, which minimizes Capitalism, but ultimately has nothing do with whether or not a person owns a business.

        So you are damn wrong, China is NOT as capitalistic as USA because to even have a business in China you have to get into bed with the government and that is more like an Oligarchy/Aristocracy than it is Capitalism any day!

        China regulates more than the USA does, which directly means you are plumb out of your gourd... so much for being a mugwump!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          OldMugwump (profile), 14 Dec 2016 @ 12:37pm

          Re: Re: China is not communist

          I don't know where you're getting your information.

          Have you been to China in the last 30 years?

          What you describe sounds like the Mao era. Mao has been dead a long time.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2016 @ 6:25am

          Re: Re: China is not communist

          "Regulation deals with telling a business what they can and cannot do, which minimizes Capitalism, but ultimately has nothing do with whether or not a person owns a business."

          Are you suggesting that corporations be allowed to do whatever the fuck pleases them? How about requiring nude photos of college students to secure their loans, does this sound like a good idea? Some think so, others not, what could possibly go wrong? How about chip implants to track you 24-7 as a condition of employment, some think this is a good idea. Perhaps a corporation should be allowed to blow up people with drones. Is regulation of corporations always a bad thing?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Wendy Cockcroft, 16 Dec 2016 @ 5:59am

            Re: Re: Re: China is not communist

            If we're going with the "corporations are people, my friend" argument then we need to treat corporations more like people, i.e. give them responsibilities alongside their rights and make them take responsibility for their actions. Is that fair?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2016 @ 11:09am

    "The richest man in China, Wang Jianlin, has apparently deputized MPAA boss Chris Dodd as his messenger to Donald Trump on the issue of China."

    That just tells me that the richest man in China hasn't got the balls to talk to Trump. When a person cannot talk and deal with someone direct then the person cannot be worthy to talk to or deal with in the first place!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2016 @ 11:29am

      Re:

      Obviously you know nothing about diplomacy or cultures outside your television. By presenting it as a conversation between two 'connected' people both China and America can officially say there are no issues in thier relationship while having a channel to discuss issues frankly. The fact that our reaction was to run to the media is disturbing.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 14 Dec 2016 @ 11:39am

      Re:

      Along with what the AC above notes, it could also be a power play. 'Look, I have sufficient power to order someone like Dodd, the head of a major group in your country, to act as my representative, therefore you should take what I say seriously.'

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Roger Strong (profile), 14 Dec 2016 @ 11:45am

        Re: Re:

        As an added bonus, this is one of the few Techdirt stories where the players themselves supply the popcorn.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Michael, 14 Dec 2016 @ 11:46am

        Re: Re:

        Chris Dodd has spent so many years as a puppet that he probably has holes in his pants.

        I'm not sure ordering him around really indicates much of anything other than "I know this guy will do what I pay him to do".

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 14 Dec 2016 @ 12:16pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          As choices for mouthpieces to demonstrate power and/or wealth he's not the best choice, no.

          "Look, I can order Dodd to say what I want him to say!"

          "So what, anyone with enough money to spend can do that."

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Frozen Njal (profile), 15 Dec 2016 @ 4:20am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I was thinking more along the lines of "look, I can get one of your more influential and noisy industries on my side, you'd better pay attention or else..."

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2016 @ 11:45am

      Re:

      Astroturfing is the most important of leisure time activity of both USA and China. I mean using the king of astroturf bosses defending imaginary rights for fantasy works is the perfect way to assure a fake conversation!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      crade (profile), 14 Dec 2016 @ 1:32pm

      Re:

      He never said anything about wanting to deal. He just wants to show China's disapproval. Sending a lackey is just an added sign of disrespect.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), 14 Dec 2016 @ 11:24am

    "Nice movie theatre chain you've got there. Be a real shame if something happened to it."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Paul Clark, 14 Dec 2016 @ 11:28am

    An Appropriate Response

    How about Donald filing a WTO complaint against China for currency manipulation and requesting the all WTO member countries apply import duties to all Chinese made goods and to all goods made in countries that do not apply the duty.

    The good news is this should have been done a long time ago to make trade with China fairer.

    The bad news is this will make most things more expensive and may cause a world wide recession.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael, 14 Dec 2016 @ 11:47am

    On top of the 10,000 AMC employees, this would be a serious hit to the popcorn farmers in this country.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    I.T. Guy, 14 Dec 2016 @ 1:16pm

    "I told him to tell Mr. Trump that I have $10 billion of investments in the United States and more than 20,000 employees"

    Awww isn't it cute. The little man is getting all puffy. Take your 10 billion and go little man. It's not like you invest here for the fun of it. So if you don't want to invest here anymore there are plenty of others that will.

    Take your ball and go... please do.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      crade (profile), 14 Dec 2016 @ 1:37pm

      Re:

      President Elect Trump! I didn't know you read Techdirt!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Frozen Njal (profile), 15 Dec 2016 @ 4:22am

      Re:

      Given how the government sucks up to industries with far less money and clout, he's got a point with quoting those numbers.

      How much did Trump run around and 'spend' trying to 'save' a few manufacturing jobs?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2016 @ 11:08am

        Re: Re:

        But he did save the jobs right? Those employee's will still be drawing a paycheck won't they? I bet the people that still have jobs are not so concerned with how much was spent, they probably care more that they will be able to continue to feed their families no?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          crade (profile), 15 Dec 2016 @ 4:19pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I bet they aren't. I'd bet it's more the people who didn't get the special treatment that are thinking about how much was spent. If you give someone a special deal because they are threatening to move production out of the U.S., you better be prepared for a line-up.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2016 @ 2:02pm

    Rich Communist?

    --Wang, who is China’s richest man, is a former commander in the People’s Liberation Army, and a current delegate to the Chinese People’s National Congress, as well as a member of an advisory board to the Communist Party.

    Clearly Wang steers the Communist Party away from Communism otherwise he would be sharing the wealth and be poor like his fellow citizens.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2016 @ 3:14pm

    Cowards

    Never trust somebody else to speak on your behalf.

    Never trust somebody else to lie for you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2016 @ 4:40pm

    Chris Dodd a Chinese lapdog, nothing new in that. I wonder, will they beat his ass if he makes nasty on the rug?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2016 @ 5:20pm

    Well, this really isn't a surprise.

    We know Chris Dodd has a hard-on for China's censorship system.

    We also know the MPAA directed funding to Republicans after SOPA's defeat.

    It's not a surprise that foreigners think that the MPAA runs the country, because that's exactly how it is. antidirt's boys throw the money that might have been used to pay film crews to demand laws.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Eldakka (profile), 14 Dec 2016 @ 5:24pm

    Letting Wang steer your decisions inevitably leads to embarrassment if not outright disaster.

    Therefore it's better to keep Wang under control and not let it go prancing around inserting itself where ever it wants.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Dave Cortright (profile), 19 Dec 2016 @ 10:31am

    I’m with Trump on this one...

    I’m no fan of Donald "truthiness instead of facts" Trump, but on this one I am with him. If China doesn't want POTUS talking to the President of Taiwan, then maybe China shouldn't allow there to be a President of Taiwan. I mean do they govern Taiwan or not? To allow a position to exist within their government whose title conveys a certain level of power, but then to throw a tantrum when someone talks to the person in that position is pretty immature. China should be decisive, either eliminating that position, or recognizing it as a powerless figurehead and knowing that any conversations they have are ultimately meaningless.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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