Soon-to-be Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is the latest Washington insider to take aim at Dalian Wanda Group, sending a letter Wednesday to two government regulators calling for increased scrutiny of the Chinese conglomerate that’s been splashing cash in Hollywood by the billion.
In a letter addressed to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman obtained by TheWrap, Schumer wrote that Wanda’s recent acquisitions, such as its $3.5 billion purchase of Legendary Entertainment in January, “reflect the strategic goals of China’s government” and called for further review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.
Schumer’s letter follows one sent to the Department of Justice on Oct. 6 by Rep. John Culberson, calling for a re-examination of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Culberson’s note was sent one week after the Government Accountability Office agreed to review the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to determine whether its legal powers have kept pace with the flurry of cross-border deals — particularly from China.
Much of the pushback results from the personal efforts of D.C. lobbyist and political consultant Richard Berman, who told TheWrap in October that “my fingerprints are all over this.”
Wanda has been by far the most visible buyer, as the company founded by Wang Jianlin, China’s wealthiest man, now owns assets ranging from AMC Theatres to Legendary to Dick Clark Productions. Wang also has close ties to the Chinese government, which is another matter of concern for Schumer.
“Despite a WTO ruling against China’s restrictive policies, U.S. filmmakers can still only distribute a small capped number of censored movies in China every year,” Schumer wrote, citing China’s 34-film quota.
“To get around this cap and enter China’s growing film market, U.S. film companies have recently cut deals with China’s largest film company, the Dalian Wanda Group, which is a Fortune 500 company, a former state-owned enterprise and has deep connections to China’s government, according to a New York Times investigation. This is concerning on a number of levels, but primarily demonstrates the un-level playing field that U.S. companies continue to face in many sectors of China’s economy.”