Barr Slams Hollywood, Big Tech for ‘Kowtowing’ to Communist China Over Profits

By Cathy He
Cathy He
Cathy He
China Reporter
Cathy He is a New York-based reporter focusing on China-related topics. She previously worked as a government lawyer in Australia. She joined the Epoch Times in February 2018.
July 16, 2020 Updated: August 25, 2020

Attorney General William Barr called out corporate America, including Hollywood and big tech, for “kowtowing” to the regime in Beijing for the sake of profits, in a speech that highlighted the communist regime’s threats to U.S. freedom and prosperity.

Hollywood and U.S. technology companies have allowed themselves “to become pawns of Chinese influence,” Barr said in a speech given at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum Grand Rapids in Michigan on July 16.

“For the sake of short-term profits, American companies have succumbed to [Chinese] influence, even at the expense of freedom and openness in the United States.”

His remarks come as the Trump administration sharply escalates its rhetoric and actions against the Chinese regime on a wide range of issues, including human rights, espionage, Hong Kong, and its coverup of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus outbreak.

In the past week alone, Washington has sanctioned CCP officials responsible for rights abuses against ethnic minorities in the region of Xinjiang, formally opposed Beijing’s territorial claims and aggressive actions in the South China Sea, ended Hong Kong’s special privileges with the United States following Beijing’s imposition of a draconian national security law, and signed into law a bill that sanctions officials involved in suppressing freedoms in Hong Kong and the banks that do business with them.

Film Industry’s Self-Censorship

Barr pointed to the hypocrisy behind Hollywood’s practice of self-censorship in order to secure access to the world’s largest movie market.

“Every year at the Academy Awards, Americans are lectured about how this country falls short of Hollywood’s ideals of social justice,” he said. “But Hollywood now regularly censors its own movies to appease the Chinese Communist Party—the world’s most powerful violator of human rights.”

For instance, a scene in the zombie blockbuster “World War Z” was altered to remove the suggestion that the virus that started the apocalypse originated in China, Barr said.

Meanwhile, the film industry is becoming more reliant on Chinese financing, and some U.S. firms have entered into joint ventures with Chinese studios, paving the way for technology and know-how to be transferred to Beijing, the attorney general warned.

“PRC [People’s Republic of China] may be less interested in cooperating with Hollywood, than co-opting Hollywood, and eventually replacing it with its own homegrown movie productions,” Barr said.

America’s tech giants have also aided the regime in building surveillance technology and censored their products in exchange for access to the Chinese market, Barr said.

U.S. tech firm Cisco Systems, for instance, helped Beijing build its vast internet censorship and surveillance apparatus known as the Great Firewall, he said. Others, “such as Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Apple have shown themselves all too willing to collaborate with the CCP,” Barr added.

Apple, he said, has removed several apps from its Chinese app store after pressure from Beijing, and moved some of its iCloud data to servers in China, despite concern that it would expose the data to access by the CCP.

Officials at Google, Apple, Yahoo, and Microsoft didn’t immediately respond to requests by The Epoch Times for comment.

Co-opting Business Elite

Barr also warned that U.S. business leaders have become the “principal targets” of Chinese influence operations in the United States. He said the Justice Department has seen an increasing number of cases involving Chinese officials and their proxies reaching out to executives to get them to take actions favorable to the CCP.

“Privately pressuring or courting American corporate leaders to promote policies or U.S. politicians presents a significant threat,” Barr said. “Because hiding behind American voices allows the Chinese government to elevate its influence and put a ‘friendly face’ on pro-regime policies.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray also recently said the Chinese regime has worked hard to co-opt the “people closest” to U.S. officials it’s targeting for influence, such as business people and political donors.

“Some of these intermediaries may not even realize they’re being used as pawns, because they, too, have been deceived,” Wray said at the time.

Actions by America’s business elite who speak for Chinese companies or Beijing may implicate the Foreign Agents Registration Act, Barr said; the law requires those working on behalf of a foreign government or entity to register with the Justice Department.

“Appeasing the PRC may bring short-term rewards,” Barr said, in a message directed at U.S. business leaders. “But in the end, the PRC’s goal is to replace you.

“The fundamental character of the regime has never changed, as its ruthless crackdown of Hong Kong demonstrates once again. China is no closer to democracy today than it was in 1989 when tanks confronted pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square.”

Cathy He
Cathy He
China Reporter
Cathy He is a New York-based reporter focusing on China-related topics. She previously worked as a government lawyer in Australia. She joined the Epoch Times in February 2018.