World

China's richest man warns Trump against movie trade war

DAVOS, SWITZERLAND: China's richest man, Hollywood investor Wang Jianlin, warned Mr Donald Trump against dragging the entertainment industry into a trade war, saying his country's millions of movie-lovers are key to the future of cinema.

He joined a chorus of concern from international business chiefs gathered at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week over the protectionist leanings of the US President-elect, who takes office today (tomorrow, Singapore time).

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Mr Wang, whose Wanda conglomerate owns a US cinema chain, a Hollywood production company and the firm that runs the Golden Globe awards, said America would be the bigger loser if the entertainment sector fell victim to a trade war.

"The main growth market of English-language films out of the US is actually China, not anywhere else," Mr Wang told an audience in Davos on Wednesday, noting that China had the most movie screens in the world, with 15,000 added in the past year alone.

"If China were to retaliate, it would be bad for both parties so I don't wish to see that scenario materialising."

Chinese President Xi Jinping led calls in Davos for an open global economy as Mr Trump prepares to take power, warning on Tuesday: "No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war."

Mr Wang said last month that the jobs of his 20,000 US employees would be on the line if the Trump administration mishandled Chinese investment.

Wang said both China and the US would benefit from more joint movie productions.

Only 34 foreign films are allowed cinema releases in China each year, limiting Hollywood studios' ability to cash in on a massive potential audience - but "there's no limit" on co-productions, Mr Wang pointed out. - AFP

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