The battle to dominate China's theme park industry is heating up with Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group hiring a former Disney executive to oversee its theme parks. Wanda, which operates two domestic parks, has hired Andrew Kam, the former head of Hong Kong Disneyland, to be vice president of Wanda's Cultural Tourism Group. The position puts Kam in charge of the Bejing company's Wanda Cultural Tourism City in Nanchang and Wuhan Wanda Movie Park in Wuhan. The company's chairman, Wang Jianlin, also has promised to build nearly a dozen more parks. The move to hire Kam looks like a shot at Disney because Jianlin ridiculed Disney's 5.5-billion Shanghai theme park before it opened in June.
SHANGHAI/TAIPEI – China's film regulator on Wednesday said it was suspending mainland Chinese movies and their personnel from participating in Taiwan's annual Golden Horse Awards this year, without giving a reason. The China Film Administration made the announcement in a statement on its official WeChat account. The move comes after the event, the Chinese-speaking world's version of the Oscars, last year became a lightning rod for questions about Taiwanese independence, sparking a debate between Taiwanese and mainland stars as well as netizens. The state of ties between Beijing and the self-ruled island has since become more tense, with China announcing that it would stop issuing individual travel permits for Taiwan to Chinese travelers last week. "From an industry point of view, the Golden Horse was a good platform for exchanges on films among mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong," said Dong Shu, a Shanghai-based film critic.
SHANGHAI/BEIJING – The censorship in China of hundreds of academic papers from a prominent journal will have little impact because readership is so small, but if Western institutions don't like the way things are done in China they can leave, the state-run Global Times newspaper said in an editorial Monday. The editorial appeared after news that Cambridge University Press (CUP) had blocked access on its site in China to a list of some 300 papers and book reviews from the China Quarterly that the Chinese government had asked to be removed. CUP said it complied so that the larger body of its academic and educational materials could remain available in China. But critics argue that the publisher had undermined the principles of academic freedom and independence and lent its name to China's censorship efforts. The articles and book reviews touched on subjects deemed sensitive by the Chinese government, including the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, the 1965-75 Cultural Revolution, Taiwan, Xinjiang and Tibet.
BEIJING – U.S. pop star Lady Gaga has been added to a list of "hostile forces" banned by China's ruling Communist Party after the singer met with the Dalai Lama and spoke about love and compassion, a report said Tuesday Britain's Guardian newspaper quoted the Hong Kong prodemocracy Apple Daily as reporting Monday that the Communist Party's propaganda department had issued "an important instruction" banning her entire repertoire from mainland China. Beijing regularly vilifies the Tibetan spiritual leader as a political figure who advocates splitting the Himalayan region of Tibet from the rest of China. The Dalai Lama says he simply wants a higher degree of autonomy under Chinese rule. On Sunday, before speaking at a conference in Indianapolis of American mayors, he met Lady Gaga. The official website of the office of the Dalai Lama reported that Lady Gaga interviewed him in an exchange streamed live over Facebook.
Mysterious lights were spotted in China last week, leaving onlookers to wonder what they were and some even questioned if they were UFOs from another planet. The lights began appearing over several different parts of the country, including Beijing, Chongqing, Shanxi and Inner Mongolia at approximately 6:45 p.m. local time, The Daily Mail reported. Several videos of the bizarre lights were posted to Weibo, a micro-blogging site in China similar to Twitter, with several wondering what it could be. "Aliens are coming!" said one Weibo user, according to the Mail. Another asked: "Is the UFO leaving China after celebrating its national holiday?' People Daily's China, the largest newspaper group in China, said experts believe the lights are likely related to "high-altitude aircraft" and the streaks that were left behind by them. Still, not everyone on social media was convinced. One Twitter user appeared to question whether the recent lights over California and Arizona might be related to the lights over China. "So the 1st picture is of a'UFO Sighting' in China," the person tweeted. "The 2nd picture is from a couple months ago when they "launched a rocket in California" and the 3rd picture was taken tonight from Phoenix AZ.