Even Bob Iger Couldn’t Change a Lawmaker’s Mind on Chinese Censorship

disney chinese censorship us lawmakers

The Walt Disney Company has developed a relationship with China over the years, and its one that has had its ups and downs, beginning even before Bob Iger’s time as Disney CEO. The Walt Disney Company has had a presence in neighboring regions of China since the 1990s when it opened a Theme Park in Hong Kong. However, the company’s relationship with the Chinese government and Chinese audiences has had ups and downs. In 2016, Disney opened the Shanghai Disney Resort on the mainland, which has undoubtedly been the most significant investment of the Mouse House in Chinese territory thus far.

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Shanghai Disney Resort has made Disney’s presence known in China. The Resort has two attractions—Shanghai Disneyland Park and Disneytown, a shopping and dining district similar to Downtown Disney in Disneyland Resort and Disney Springs in Walt Disney World Resort. Shanghai Disneyland Park is home to six lands, including Adventure Isle, Fantasyland, Gardens of Imagination, Mickey Avenue, Tomorrowland, and Treasure Cove. The Disney Park also houses many popular attractions, like Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure, TRON Lightcycle Power Run, and more.

Disney China Relationship

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However, despite this long-held relationship between Disney CEO Bob Iger and the Chinese Communist Party and President Xi Jinping , Chinese censorship has been at the front of concerns from many United States lawmakers, especially when it comes to Disney, for the last few years. Lawmakers have repeatedly expressed that Chinese censorship threatens free speech, global internet freedom, and national security. Particularly, when it comes to Disney, something that they have shared their concerns about in the past is Hollywood films being censored to appeal to a Chinese audience.

On this subject, the LA Times reported that last week, Republican representative Mike Gallagher, the chairman of the House Select Committee on China, visited California, where he met with Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger and Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, among others, to discuss their business with China.

He expressed uncertainties that Disney was doing enough to address Chinese censorship and, in fact, stated that he was even more certain this kind of censorship was happening.

magic kingdom cinderella castle

“Partners” Statue, Cinderella Castle, Magic Kingdom Park, Walt Disney World / Credit: Disney

Related: China Market is Softening on Iger and Disney

“My concern about censorship remains as strong, if not stronger than ever,” Gallagher said. “It’s unquestionably happening. Everyone was completely candid about that. It’s a major problem.”

Gallagher continued, “It can promote anti-American messages. What we don’t want, but what the CCP ultimately wants, is for the CCP-approved version of the movie to become the only version and that’s a bright red line that we should work to enforce.”

About Priyanka Kumar

Priyanka is a writer, artist, avid reader, and travel enthusiast based in Chicago. In her free time, she is probably walking by the lake, catching up on the latest releases on TV, or spending inordinate amounts of time rewatching Moana, Encanto, and her Disney Channel life-long favorites Zack and Cody wreak havoc on the Tipton.

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