As the Department of Defense (DOD) develops new laws to crack down on suspected Chinese influence over U.S. media, Hollywood executives are prepared for heightened scrutiny over how their films are regulated on behalf of the Chinese government, according to a new report from Deadline.
When the regulations are completed, the DOD will be forbidden from supporting or otherwise permitting the use of funds to assist any entertainment project that “has cooperated or is likely to comply” with a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) censorship request that supports the CCP’s objectives.
In other words, the little-publicized clause of a recently approved military bill prohibits the US government from spending money on films that, in order to enter the Chinese market, are changed to comply with Chinese government demands.
The new regulations are part of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act.
The Motion Picture Association is keeping a close eye on the Department of Defense as they develop genuine policy guidelines for military collaboration.
The US government has a lengthy history of assisting film and television projects, including the most recent Top Gun: Maverick, often in the form of military equipment and technical advice.
While the number of U.S. releases in China has been declining in recent years, and the actual number of films seeking Department of Defense participation is minimal, studios are concerned that the provision may lead to further reductions in exports.
Last month, the House established a bipartisan select committee investigating competitiveness between the United States and China. Its chairman, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), quickly stated that hearings will be held on the entertainment sector.
In a statement he provided to Deadline Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) claimed that that “The language is designed to counter China’s campaign to control what Americans hear, see and ultimately think. Under this provision, Hollywood studios that want to work with the government — things like using military locations or resources for filming — will have to keep the CCP off of the set and out of the editing room.”
Since 2020, hawkishness toward China has grown, across party lines, as seen by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s unexpected visit to Taiwan last year.
Beijing retaliated by intensifying military drills and launching ballistic missiles nearby a move which heightened tensions in the region even further.