China Takes Aim at American Entertainment

By volume, the United States of America is far and away the world’s biggest exporter of entertainment services utterly dominated the global trade in television and movies and by most measures leading in music (Sweden has us beat, I believe, in per capital music exports). This is one area where the rise of the Chinese manufacturing juggernaut hasn’t impaired America’s leading role at all. If anything, the reverse as a more prosperous China serves as an increasingly lucrative market for American firms. But Chinese President Hu Jintao is none too happy about it, kicking off the New Year with a magazine article complaining that “[i]nternational forces are trying to Westernize and divide us by using ideology and culture.”

The talk coincides with the implementation of a regulation announced in October that aims to clean up Chinese television by restricting networks to offering no more than two “overly entertaining and vulgar” programs per week. That kind of strategy strikes me as unlikely to succeed, but I would welcome more robust efforts by the PRC to strengthen the quantity of cultural outputs that are up to international standards. I really enjoyed Red Cliff, for example, but we just don’t see that many Chinese war epics.