China’s relationship with The Walt Disney Company is a diplomatic one just as much it is a business one
We’re approaching the final few weeks before the first Disney Resort in mainland China opens its gates. Shanghai Disney Resort is certainly a large achievement for Disney, namely for CEO Bob Iger. However, it isn’t the only theme park nor branded product that Disney has shared with the Asian country.
The Walt Disney Company’s relationship with China began over 80 years ago with Walt Disney himself when he brought his first-ever animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, to the city of Shanghai for its Asia premiere. Since then, that relationship has grown in scope and meaning for both Chinese citizens and the global entertainment company.
For China, Disney’s partnership has inspired its people to create and dream big. “Disney has worked to build a strong affinity with Chinese families and audiences through the core values of quality, optimism, innovation, and storytelling in all of its creative content,” said Wing Chao, a former Disney executive who was the master planner behind many of Disney’s resorts globally.
He and Disney Parks Chairman Bob Chapek were both at the C-100 summit in Los Angeles, an event held a few weeks ago by an organization whose mission is to strengthen the relationship between the U.S. and China. The Walt Disney Company received an award at the event’s gala recognizing Disney’s efforts in building that through its business dealings in the country.
“Over the nearly 80 years that followed [the Seven Dwarfs premiere], this relationship has grown and evolved and the Chinese people now share a common bond that have been inspired by Disney stories of dreams and imagination,” said Bob Chapek accepting the award at the gala. “From films to TV to toys, Disney products have become mainstays in China.”
And he isn’t wrong. Combined with the impending opening of the 963-acre Shanghai Disney Resort, Chinese people won’t have to worry about the depletion of its Disney products anytime soon. The fact that statement can actually be said just shows how much Disney has an influence on China.
That influence can actually be very provoking and impressive at the same time.
On one hand, you have a U.S.-based company has built a relationship with a very large country in people and authority in the world. On the other hand, you have that same company being able to influence that very large country with anything that it does or put out.
Not that many companies, let alone one in the United States, is able to claim those things and it’s something worth thinking about, especially since we’re in the middle of a big political season here in the United States. One can also think of The Walt Disney Company’s relationship with China to be a diplomatic one just as much as it is a business one.
“Disney connects people across cultures by inspiring creativity and imagination and you can see this in China where Disney stories and products have touched, been enjoyed, and have been admired by million, and millions, and millions of people,” Chao noted.
Those massive amounts of Chinese citizens aren’t just making Disney lots of cash, but are potentially and unconsciously strengthening the diplomatic relations between the two very different countries by just simply being consumers. Disney’s response to their actions is obvious – continue what they have been doing and have Mickey and Minnie be the leaders of that club.
“We look forward to continuing and strengthening our prosperous relationship with China as we work together to extend our unique brand of Disney magic to this important part of the world,” Chapek said.
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