How Beijing Runs the Show in Hollywood

Issue Date April 2022
Volume 33
Issue 2
Page Numbers 90–102
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The relationship between PRC content rules, the Chinese entertainment industry (broadly defined), and U.S. media conglomerates underscores a transition in the role of entertainment in politics. The shift is from “soft power” to “sharp power”—in particular, the type that weaponizes technology and corporations’ dependence on political authorities for market access to control content. Beijing deploys sharp power to constrain content by bringing PRC laws and market pressures to bear on U.S. corporate interests. The threat of losing access to the vast Chinese market forces U.S. brands, corporations, and influencers to limit what they say about topics that Beijing deems sensitive (including the Uyghurs, Hong Kong, Tibet, and Tiananmen Square) for fear of having content barred from China.

About the Author

Aynne Kokas is associate professor of media studies, the C.K. Yen Chair at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, and the director of the University of Virginia East Asia Center. She is the author of the new book Trafficking Data: How China Is Winning the Battle for Digital Sovereignty (2022) and Hollywood Made in China (2017).

View all work by Aynne Kokas