chapter  5
17 Pages

The Battle of Images

Cultural diplomacy and Sino–Hollywood negotiation
WithYing Zhu

Hollywood dominated China’s film market during the Republican era (1912–1949), taking up to an 80% share, triggering much anxiety and resistance. The Communist victory in 1949 and the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 led to an official ban on Hollywood films in 1950. The ban was lifted in 1994 when Chinese policy makers reopened the market to Hollywood blockbusters. Hollywood has been a regular fixture in China ever since, spurring simultaneous rejection, repulsion, admiration, emulation, competition and coercion. This chapter compares the context and terms of Hollywood’s Republican era China triumph to those of its repeat performance in the post-1994 era, and the subsequent expansion of a powerful Chinese film market to suggest historical contingencies, continuities and changes in an ongoing Sino–Hollywood dynamic with competing political, cultural and economic interest on and off screen.