China's Wang Jianlin warns Trump against protectionism

By Cecily Liu in Davos | China Daily UK | Updated: 2017-01-19 02:03

China's richest man, Wang Jianlin, warned the US President-elect Donald Trump to resist protectionist measures against Chinese investment into the US entertainment industry on Wednesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

"I would like to say, the US government, if it were to control investment, that would be a bad thing," said Wang, when interviewed by Bloomberg editor-in-chief John Micklethwait.

"We won't interfere with content. We just want the profit,"he said, referring Dalian Wanda's previous acquisitions in the US entertainment industry.

Dalian Wanda, a real estate business turned into a conglomerate, has aggressively expanded into the US entertainment industry in recent years, with high profile acquisitions including AMC Theaters and Legendary Entertainment.

In a move to reaffirm Wanda's Hollywood ambition, Wang said he would be "a happy buyer"of one of the ‘Top Six' studios. But he also noted such acquisition's challenge.

"If we are able to buy one of the top six, that would be a great thing to do. However, these six are not in a selling mood. That's something we can't crack."

Hollywood's six major studios are Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures, 21st Century Fox Inc.'s 20th Century Fox, Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros., Walt Disney Studios, Comcast Corp.'s Universal Pictures and Sony Pictures.

Wang's words came one day after Chinese President Xi Jinping vigorously defended globalization and free trade in his opening keynote speech at the World Economic Forum.

The US President-elect could not attend the forum due to his inauguration. Trump pledged to pull out of the 12 nations Trans Pacific Partnership during his election campaign, which was seen as hints of the US' potential protectionist measures in the future.

Wang said Chinese investment in the US leads to mutual benefits. "The main growth market of English-language films is China. It is a major source of income. So, if China were to retaliate, it's bad for both parties. I do not wish to see that materialize.”

Wang added he has asked the chairman of the Film Association of the U.S. to pass a message to Trump: "Let's leave the entertainment industry alone, no war please".

Wang added he is very impressed with Xi's elaboration on globalization. "He used almost half of his speech to comment on globalization. It targeted the rising protectionism and populism around the world. Globalization is neither a fairytale nor a devil; it is a trend. It depends on how you manage it,"Wang said.

"Also I am very impressed with how President Xi elaborated on China's contribution to the world economy. China is not merely a benefiter, but also a contributor,"he said.

Wang said Wanda places high priority on its media and sports business segments, referring to market opportunities created by China's huge consumer population.

"Real estate cannot be sustainable and stable, so we need to transition. We noticed that after (a country) develops, many people with money will go for health and entertainment. Entertainment makes you happy, sport makes you healthy,"he says.

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