News that former Disney CEO Bob Iger is under consideration to serve as Joe Biden’s Chinese ambassador is a concerning indication the president-elect’s relationship with Beijing will be even worse than expected.
Iger, currently the executive chairman of Disney, has collaborated closely with the Chinese government to produce and release films in the Middle Kingdom, a venture that ultimately makes him complicit in the country’s mounting human rights abuses.
Iger is exactly the wrong person to nominate for this position which, by the way, is among the most important jobs in the world right now. He’s qualified to negotiate with Beijing, but for all the wrong reasons—cozy ties, long relationships, and tolerance for the government’s terrible conduct.
In the midst of the NBA’s blow-up with Beijing over the protests in Hong Kong, Iger declined to support the protesters, saying instead, “What we learned in the last week — we’ve learned how complicated this is. The biggest learning from that is that caution is imperative. To take a position that could harm our company in some form would be a big mistake. I just don’t believe it’s something we should engage in in a public manner.” (Iger, of course, never found things too “complicated” to speak out in favor of leftist causes.)
That quote demonstrates the opposite attitude we need from an ambassador to China right now, and shows Iger’s prioritization of money over the victims of CCP oppression and the interests of the U.S.—beyond the wealthy corporate class. China abuses the rights of its own citizens and it counts deliberate efforts to undercut the U.S. among its primary objectives.
Disney’s live-action “Mulan” remake, made under Iger’s tenure, was filmed in Xinjiang, the province in which China is interring Uyghur Muslims on a mass scale. The movie thanked eight government organizations in its credits, including one blacklisted by the U.S. government for its role in abusing the Uyghurs, indicating close collaboration.
That’s unacceptable. Iger’s remarks about Hong Kong are demonstrative of a broader attitude rooted in the exchange system established between the American film industry and China. The Chinese market is extremely lucrative, so Hollywood studios preemptively censor films and make creative decisions that allow them to be approved by CCP censors. They collaborate with the government to get their movies into Chinese theaters, rather than using their content as leverage to pressure Beijing into better behavior or speak out on the abuses. It’s unpatriotic and immoral.
Iger represents Hollywood’s China problem. He is in no position to represent our interests in Beijing. We have every reason to be concerned by his deep relationships in China, lingering financial entanglements, and record of prioritizing profits over American interests and abused citizens. That Biden is even considering Iger, a man who’d rather criticize pro-life Americans that the CCP, is outrageous.