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  • So, Really Want to Talk About Foreign Intervention? (updated)

    Posted by David Foster on October 7th, 2019 (All posts by )

    Much ink and many photons have been spent discussing Russia’s attempts to influence (or at least disrupt) the American 2016 Presidential campaign.  Meanwhile…

    Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets, sent out a tweet which said “Fight for Freedom, Stand with Hong Kong.”  Tencent, the NBA’s exclusive digital partner in China, reacted by suspending business relations with the Rockets, and is offering fans who purchased a year-long pass to watch Rockets games the chance to switch it to a different team. A number of other Chinese companies have pulled sponsorship deals with the Rockets as well.  Morey issued an apology which said in part ” was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event. I have had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives.”

    And from last year:  here’s an appalling story about how anger from the Chinese government led Marriott Corporation to fire an employee who had ‘liked’ a tweet which congratulated the company for listing Tibet as a country, along with Hong Kong and Taiwan….of course, the Chinese regime considers Tibet to be a part of China, not a separate country.

    China forced Marriott to suspend all online booking for a week at its nearly 300 Chinese hotels. A Chinese leader also demanded the company publicly apologize and “seriously deal with the people responsible,” the Journal reported.

    And boy, did Marriott ever apologize. Craig Smith, president of the hotel chain’s Asian division, told the China Daily that Marriott had committed two significant mistakes — presumably the survey listing Tibet and the liked tweet — that “appeared to undermine Marriott’s long-held respect for China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

    He announced an “eight-point rectification plan” that included education for hotel employees across the globe and stricter supervision.

    And the Marriott executive said this to China’s most-read English-language newspaper: “This is a huge mistake, probably one of the biggest in my career.”

    (More here…according to this article, the Chinese suppression of Marriott bookings was in response to the initial listing of Tibet as a country rather than to the tweet approving of this listing)

    The Chinese economy is, shall we say, a little more dynamic than that of Russia, so the government of China has much more ability to strong-arm American corporations (in general) than does the Putin regime.

    Turning now from the hotel industry to the movie industry, Richard Gere says that Chinese pressure due to his stand on Tibetan independence has led to his being dropped from big Hollywood movies.  Also:

    Gere’s activities have not just made Hollywood apparently reluctant to cast him in big films, he says they once resulted in him being banished from an independently financed, non-studio film which was not even intended for a Chinese release.

    “There was something I was going to do with a Chinese director, and two weeks before we were going to shoot, he called saying, ‘Sorry, I can’t do it,’” Gere recalled. “We had a secret phone call on a protected line. If I had worked with this director, he, his family would never have been allowed to leave the country ever again, and he would never work.”

    See also How China’s Censors Influence Hollywood.  Because the Chinese market is so large…(Fast and Furious 7 pulled in $388 million in China, more than it made in the US)…the influence of the Chinese regime on US film production and distribution has become immense.

    In recent years, foreign filmmakers have also gone out of their way not to provoke the Communist Party. For instance, the 2012 remake of the Cold War action movie, Red Dawn, originally featured Chinese soldiers invading an American town. After filming was complete, though, the moviemakers went back and turned the attacking army into North Koreans, which seemed a safer target, at least until last year’s hack of Sony Pictures.

    and

    Ying Zhu, a professor of media culture at the College of Staten Island at the City University of New York, worries China’s growing market power is giving the Communist Party too much leverage over Hollywood.

    “The Chinese censors can act as world film police on how China can be depicted, how China’s government can be depicted, in Hollywood films,” she says. “Therefore, films critical of the Chinese government will be absolutely taboo.”

    In the late 1990s, when China’s box office was still small, Hollywood did make movies that angered the Communist Party, such as Seven Years In Tibet, about the life of the Dalai Lama, and Red Corner, a Richard Gere thriller that criticized China’s legal system. Given the importance of the China market now, Zhu says those movies wouldn’t get financing today.

    Plus, Chinese companies have snapped up Hollywood studios, theaters and production companies.

     

    One point about globalization of trade that is rarely noted is that it gives foreign governments–especially those in countries where business and government are closely coupled–greatly increased leverage over American political discussion, indeed, over America’s entire public dialogue with itself.

    And this influence isn’t limited only to business organizations.  It is reported that the Chinese government has established extensive influence organizations targeting American universities and academic institutions, which are of course some of the most money-hungry organizations in existence.  See Foreign Policy on China’s Trojan Horse.

    Returning for the moment to Russia…a report by the House Science Committee says that Russia has used social media to encourage American protests aimed at suppressing the research and development of fossil fuels and stymie efforts to expand the use of natural gas.  (More here, with examples of posts–See also this, from Canada.)  ‘Progressives’ have minimized the significance of the Russian effort, asserting that it has been trivial in scale.  But certainly, the economic and geopolitical interest of the Putin regime in harming US energy production seems direct and obvious…much more so than any possible  interest they might have had in a Trump election victory.

    Also, a study by Iowa State University (discussed in first link of the paragraph above) said that English-language Russian media coverage of agricultural issues “fits the profile” of an effort to amplify controversy regarding genetically modified food.  Russia apparently has banned production and imports of genetically modified crops and is positioning itself as a supplier of crops that are “ecologically clean” as a contrast with countries such as the U.S. and Brazil, which allow modern gene-modification technology in plant production, particularly for corn and soybeans.

    There is something of a precedent for the Chinese intervention in American move-making. The Nazi government of Germany was extremely upset about the American 1937 film ‘The Road Back’, which was based on Remarque’s great but neglected novel, and demanded major changes, on pain of boycotting all of the studio’s films (and future films involving any member of the cast, down to the hairdressers and boom operators)

    The studio complied and changed the film. This was not the only case where German government demands resulted in changes to an American movie…indeed, the German consul in Los Angeles had influence operations on the Hollywood film industry as one of his major assignments. I don’t think the Geman influence was a all-encompassing at that time as it seems to have become lately with China, though.

     

    28 Responses to “So, Really Want to Talk About Foreign Intervention? (updated)”

    1. David Foster Says:

      South Park banned in China…and apparently not just the program itself, but any threads that *mention* it.

      https://reason.com/2019/10/07/china-south-park-ban-censorship/

      Trey Parker and Matt Stone apologized, but it was a little different from most of the apologies we see:

      https://twitter.com/SouthPark/status/1181273539799736320

    2. Ginny Says:

      The unconnected series of Instapundit’s around this (including the homeless on the west coast) seem immoral – not amoral which we’ve been seeing in alienated art for fifty years.

    3. David Foster Says:

      Ginny…don’t understand…could you explicate?

    4. Mike K Says:

      China has played their supposed “huge market” into lots of industrial espionage and the castration of Hollywood.

      One big reason we don’t get any serious movies anymore is because the writing has be simple enough for all the foreign language viewers, who also learn what a terrible country we are.

      Cartoons are much easier to write dialogue for and anti-Americanism has a big market share.

    5. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

      I guess I will have to give up the NBA, which is a pity, as I know a fair bit about it and have enjoyed following it.

    6. David Foster Says:

      AVI…you should send them a nastygram before you go!

    7. BobtheRegisterredFool Says:

      The thing about “Trump’s policies could serve this foreign interest, therefore, he must be willfully supporting them, and owe his office to them” that really set me off is how loose of a test it is. Pretty much any sane policy helps someone, somewhere, and we’ve been lax enough about foreign influence that you can find it anywhere if you look hard enough.

      The policy that can not be impeached by this test is the complete extermination of the rest of the world. So, and only part of this is trolling and an appeal to common sense, let’s do that. Don’t want to eliminate welfare to fund the build up? Treason. Don’t want Yosemite to be a nuclear test range? Firing squad. Want to research gynecology instead of chairs for high speed nape of the earth bombers? To the electric chair!

      In all seriousness, I think the PRC is vulnerable now, and that external military threat might take spending away from internal repression. I also dislike a number of other world tyrannies, and would rather fight them than submit.

      If my policy preferences are adopted, I might potentially make money from them. But I’m not bellicose because I stand to profit. I’ve made certain career choices because I am bellicose, and think I detect a professional opportunity.

    8. PenGun Says:

      Yup its a new ball game. The Chinese are sensitive as they know they will have to play a very good game, to peacefully take the crown from America. State control is one way to keep everything rolling in the right direction, but most Chinese are just fine with how things are going.

      Look at what is happening in Hong Kong. This an attempt at a colour revolution, it won’t succeed but there could be a need to use force on Hong Kong, which I believe is largely the point of the attempt. That would put the Twitterverse into some kind of arrest, and be very funny for some of us, but very dangerous for so many people.

      Yes you want to play in China, you have to follow their rules.

      The Russians make weapons. They are very good at it and at this point the US has no advantage and depending on actual performance may be at a disadvantage. Putin has kept his cool extemely well and now knows a great deal about American military capability without revealing much at all. The games of pin the tail on the F-22 the Russians have been playing has demonstrated what stealth actually means. The Hunter Drone / SU-57 team should terrify anyone who knows how this stuff works. The Chinese have access to a lot of this technology and have adapted many Russian techniques and mostly, their jet engines.

      Trump is doing so well. I am pleased and expect him to continue to make the Democrats/Deep State (anyone still not believe;) look like idiots. Well they are, so that helps.

    9. Mike K Says:

      State control is one way to keep everything rolling in the right direction,

      Says the America hater who trolls this blog. I guess you have gone c=full communist. That works so well in practice.

      You are also an expert on Russian military skills.

    10. tomw Says:

      I interpret ‘keep things rolling in the right direction’ to mean that they are getting their way, not that it is necessarily ‘right’. May be wrong…

      That said, it occurred that the firms/enterprises that cater to foreign government repression or re-direction, or absolute control(you cannot do THAT) are doing so for moolah. Period.
      OTOH, do we see the foreign states involved respond to any requests/demands from USA or USA firms? Not that I can see.
      Result? The foreign nations are eating our lunch. Intellectual property is absconded with or even flat taken as part of contract negotiations.
      I suggest firms send their representatives to school to learn how to negotiate. Learn how to leave the three-martini meeting without leaving their pants/skirts behind rumpled on the floor. Doing so will make it less likely they will have been boinked at the table without even being kissed.
      The Russians and Chinese, (and a lot of others) must think US trade reps are a bunch of foolish dummies to accept so many promise as actually being things that will happen… and face the reality that bargaining is a skill that must be learned. Leave the booze in the hotel room. Perhaps send a bunch of Romnies. I digress.
      At least DJT has stood up, taken a stand, and is not bending over waiting for the Chinese to take advantage, and not even get kissed. Those who cater to demands will soon learn(or not) that the demands, once acceded to, are neverending. Dane geld is just a down payment, so to speak.
      tom

    11. PenGun Says:

      “Says the America hater who trolls this blog. I guess you have gone c=full communist. That works so well in practice.

      You are also an expert on Russian military skills.”

      You could have been a light unto the world. You chose Empire and have run your military machine over so many innocents. I see no leadership position for America, as we go forward, unless there are massive changes. There may be.

      Yeah I do keep up. ;)

    12. Sgt. Mom Says:

      I rather like apologies in the manner of Captain Sheridan, on Babylon 5 –
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8vA0ANTUM0

    13. MCS Says:

      I’m annoyed at the sloppy reporting, but the it’s been ever so. I saw the sanctions on Huawei presented as part of the “trade war” when they are as a result of violating sanctions on trading with Iran.

      The newest are on account of Human Rights violations, although I find it hard to see why we should do it now rather than any time in the last 70 years. Wait, isn’t that just what we did for most of 50 years? I thought that standing up for Human Rights was a good thing. Let’s all hold our breaths until the MSM asks Warren if she supports it.

      About a week ago, we sanctioned two units of the big Chinese shipping company COSCO for violating the Iran sanctions. Tanker rates to the Far East have spiked dramatically. Haven’t seen it mentioned outside of specialist circles.

      We seem to be getting ready to blacklist any ships that have hauled oil between Venezuela and Cuba which is causing all sorts of uncertainty in the Caribbean.

      Here’s a link:https://gcaptain.com/tanker-earnings-top-100000-a-day-mark/

      My impression is that $100,000 is about 25% above what was considered generous till now. None of this is costing us anything or putting any Americans or anyone else at risk. My firm conviction is that anything that Xi, Maduro and whoever claims too be in charge of Cuba find reprehensible is a positive good for us and the rest of the world whether they’ll admit it or not

    14. ErisGuy Says:

      No way I’m defending the NBA. Now if the NBA were an American corporation (it’s more international) supporting liberty and America, I might change my mind.

    15. Ginny Says:

      What I meant is that we seem to be working without a net – no sense that the good and purposeful life has a backbone, that it is real. I’m a child of the years that did spin out of control for a while – our wise artist was Bergman. Knowingness rather than a search for knowledge. By our standards we worked hard, but, for instance, I suspect I’d have been better off with a more disciplined approach to my discipline.

      Heather McDonald’s reporting on the homeless (and more distressing, the solutions for homelessness), the Democratic candidates policies for improving our schools, prisons, and streets, and what the NBA is willing to condemn and what it isn’t, Schiff’s lies, melodrama, and hypocrisy – these look at an America that seems to have a very perverse idea of what is good and above all, what works. Somehow, in this, we see the stubborn statement of what does work (by McDonald, by Gowdy, by Jordan, hell, by South Park, by all sorts of people who aren’t confused) and hope that, well, the bourgeois homemakers and engineers, the Mike Rowes, the Andrew Pollacks will help steer us through what, if the Betos of the work really characterize their generation, are likely to be perilous times. Who would have thought we’d have a communist head of the CIA or a congresswoman who married her brother to share her apparently tenuous citizenship?

      When I get through the antibiotics (foot infection) maybe I’ll feel more hopeful. Certainly the idea of Barr (and I suspect of Durham) makes me feel all is not lost. I suspect we still can produce fearless men who have a moral compass.

    16. OBloodyHell Says:

      You could have been a light unto the world. You chose Empire and have run your military machine over so many innocents. I see no leadership position for America, as we go forward, unless there are massive changes. There may be.

      I can’t really figure out whether you’re just a totally ignorant fool or a first rate tool… and that latter is not in a good sense of the term.

      Mind you, both at the same time IS a possibility.

    17. miguel cervantes Says:

      like the alt verse empire in the mirror universe, what is striking is the nba is opening a camp in Urumqi, in xinjiang, the very corner of their laogai archipelago, like a hockey franchise in Kolyma Siberia,

    18. OBloodyHell Says:

      And this influence isn’t limited only to business organizations. It is reported that the Chinese government has established extensive influence organizations targeting American universities and academic institutions, which are of course some of the most money-hungry organizations in existence.

      Ah, but students are not. Where the f*** is the “DIVEST NOW!” movement protesting on Hong Kong’s behalf??

      I guess oppression of the yellow man by other yellow men isn’t as important as oppression of the black man by white men (that is the supposed issue, regardless of whether you agree it is valid) to the modern student…

      So much for being color blind… :-/

    19. PenGun Says:

      “I can’t really figure out whether you’re just a totally ignorant fool or a first rate tool… and that latter is not in a good sense of the term.

      Mind you, both at the same time IS a possibility.”

      So you believe America is a force for good and benefits humanity? I sure don’t, the opposite in fact.

      The great part about Trump is that he is showing the world America in all its Trumpian glory. That is enough to force many countries, and people all over the world, to start planning for a world without America in charge. Works for me. ;)

    20. PenGun Says:

      This is new and kinda delicious: https://www.zerohedge.com/political/joe-biden-personally-paid-900000-burisma-according-ukrainian-mp-bombshell-admission

    21. ROBERT SYKES Says:

      The whining over Chinese interference, and especially Russian interference, is absurd. The big problem is that Israel and its agents in our government have absolute control over American foreign policy and military actions in the Middle East. Why do you think we are in Iraq and Syria.

    22. Jonathan Says:

      Watch out for the jooooos!

    23. miguel cervantes Says:

      as I pointed out in another thread, burisma is very well connected in European circles, suspicion is it was actually used to suppress oil and gas, in the Ukraine in favor of Gazprom and rosneft,

      an interesting sideline hear, was there was a princeling zumming (sic) who bought out glencore (mark rich’s firm) that held a bloc of shares of rosneft, this was part of the juryrigged private offering, between banco santo Paulo and Qatar investment trust, this what you end up when carter page doesn’t arrange the deal,

    24. Anonymous Says:

      This didn’t age well:

      One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century. It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power. China’s leaders understand that in a world of exploding populations and rising emerging-market middle classes, demand for clean power and energy efficiency is going to soar. Beijing wants to make sure that it owns that industry and is ordering the policies to do that, including boosting gasoline prices, from the top down.
      Thomas Friedman, The New York Times, 8 Sep 2009

      “Residents” of China’s Uyghur detention camps could not be reached for comment.

    25. CapitalistRoader Says:

      The great part about Trump is that he is showing the world…

      …that we’re no longer playing the role of the world’s Barney Fife.

      Maybe I’m being obtuse, but isn’t that what you want, PenGun?

    26. mark Says:

      What does the term ‘social justice’ mean? Show me the money. Does Colin K care about slavery in Africa? Nope. Somebody did something to his great, great, great grandpa therefore he gets to shake down the NFL or punch some randomn (you know who) guy in the face. Does LeBron care about oppressed people in China? Nope. Does he care about shaking down the NBA? You betcha.

      This is not about color, except the color green. Remember the article pointed out that the Germans pressured Bollywood to promote their message just as China is doing now.

    27. CapitalistRoader Says:

      When I get through the antibiotics (foot infection) maybe I’ll feel more hopeful.

      Same thing only brain infection. The first major illness I’ve ever had to navigate. US healthcare is the marvel of the world IMHO.

    28. Mike K Says:

      Why do you think we are in Iraq and Syria.

      Last I checked a bunch of Arabs attacked the World Trade Center. I’m sure you think it was Mossad.

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