Biden campaign co-chair’s deep China ties may be liability as security, humanitarian concerns mount

One of the national co-chairs of President Biden’s newly announced 2024 re-election campaign has deep and longstanding ties to China’s communist government, potentially presenting a problem for the president as analysts continue to warn of the threat that China poses to U.S. national security. The Biden campaign announced Tuesday that former Disney and DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg will be one of its national co-chairs. Katzenberg, one of the Democrats Party’s most prolific fundraisers, and his wife donated over $1.4 million to Biden’s 2020 campaign and super PAC, according to Federal Election Commission records. The Hollywood mogul also helped Biden raise millions of additional dollars by hosting fundraisers. Katzenberg, the Democratic kingmaker who later founded the venture capital firm WndroCo, has an extensive history with China that may prove problematic for Biden as the 2024 campaign wears on. Perhaps most infamously, when Katzenberg was at DreamWorks in 2012, the company announced a multi-billion-dollar deal with the Chinese government to build a production studio in Shanghai. The deal, which effectively increased the number of U.S. films that could be released in the Chinese market each year, came just days after then-Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping met with then-President Barack Obama in Washington. Xi, now the head of China’s ruling Communist Party, traveled after the Obama meeting to Los Angeles, where he met with Katzenberg and both men were featured at a ceremony inking the deal. BIDEN, HARRIS OFFICIALLY ANNOUNCE THEIR 2024 RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN Biden also played a central role in pushing Hollywood’s entry into Chinese markets during the Obama administration, meeting with Xi multiple times during the Chinese leader’s trip to the U.S. in 2012 — with Katzenberg often showing up. According to the Los Angeles Times, the DreamWorks executive was seen dining with Xi at a State Department welcome lunch in Washington, sitting just behind the Chinese leader at a Lakers game in Los Angeles, and “hanging out in a nearby hallway with Disney CEO Robert Iger to provide last-minute counsel as Biden closed a deal in which China committed to considerably expand its market for American films.” On the final day of Xi’s trip, the China-DreamWorks deal was done, in part launching Oriental DreamWorks, a $330 million venture with Chinese companies to develop and distribute animated films in China.  Katzenberg’s presence at events with Xi reflected “the access Katzenberg had to the Obama administration,” Aynne Kokas, author of the book “Hollywood Made in China” and a film industry scholar, told the Times, noting that the Hollywood producer raised millions of dollars for the Obama-Biden ticket. However, the deal triggered an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission into DreamWorks Animation and other studios for possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by allegedly bribing Chinese officials to gain access to the Chinese market. Little information has been publicized about the probe. HOLLYWOOD DEPENDENCE ON CHINA CONTRIBUTES TO DISCRIMINATION, HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES: BOOK The partnership between China and DreamWorks Animation under Katzenberg led to projects such as “Kung Fu Panda 3.” The announcement of DreamWorks’ participation in a film about Tibet, a region where China is accused of committing human rights abuses, triggered controversy and criticism. Katzenberg stressed in interviews at the time that the book on which the movie would be based wasn’t political, there’s “no secondary agenda,” and the story has all the makings of a “blockbuster.” However, the project was ultimately canceled, reportedly because Katzenberg’s company couldn’t come to terms with the producer who owned the rights to the book. When asked “why China” in a 2013 interview with the Financial Times, Katzenberg said that question was “very, very easy” to answer. “It really had become an explosively exciting market place for us, for movies,” said Katzenberg. “It is enjoying a spectacular level of growth. It will have almost doubled in size in 24, 30 months.” He also told the Financial Times that the Shanghai deal required Xi’s personal approval to move forward. According to Katzenberg, he visited China every month for years while running DreamWorks Animation. “I’ve been to China every single month for the last two and a half years because it’s a place of incredible opportunity right now,” he said in 2014. “We have enough characters and stories to create a unique, new kind of theme park experience. We’re building an animation studio in the middle of Shanghai called ‘Dream Center.'” HOLLYWOOD’S TRUE INFLUENCER: WHY CHINA MAY NEVER BE THE VILLAIN IN TINSELTOWN AGAIN The Hollywood mogul and top Democrat fundraiser continued his connections to China after stepping down from the top job at DreamWorks in 2016. Two years later, for example, China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba was among those who contributed to an initial $1 billion for Katzenberg’s WndrCo to launch a mobile-first shortform content venture called NewTV. Then in late 2020, in the aftermath of Biden’s presidential election victory, Katzenberg and Disney CEO Bob Iger were reportedly leading candidates to become the American ambassador to China. While neither one was ultimately tapped for the role, lawmakers at the time lambasted Biden for considering turning to Hollywood for America’s point man representing its chief rival. “It would condone Disney’s outrageous cooperation with the very Xinjiang authorities who are overseeing concentration camps,” tweeted Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-wis., who now serves as chair of the new Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party. “This is a great way to destroy the growing bipartisan consensus on the CCP’s egregious human rights abuses.” Moving forward, Katzenberg’s ties to China could prove problematic for the Biden campaign as the Chinese government triggers worldwide scrutiny over humanitarian concerns. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the State Department under both the Trump and Biden administrations have assessed China is committing genocide against the Uyghurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority, in the region of Xinjiang. WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST SAYS FINANCIAL SUCCESS OF ‘TOP GUN’ SHOWS HOLLYWOOD DOESN’T NEED CHINA Since 2017, the Chinese government has reportedly imprisoned more than 1 million Uyghurs in concentration camps where, according to leaked documents from inside China, detainees are subjected to rape, torture, forced labor, brainwashing and forced sterilization. U.S. officials have also increasingly called China the greatest threat to U.S. national security. “There is no doubt that the greatest long-term threat to our nation’s ideas, our economic security, and our national security is that posed by the Chinese communist government,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said during an event at Texas A&M University earlier this month. “The current Chinese regime will stop at nothing steal what they can’t create and silence the messages they don’t want to hear, all in an effort to surpass us as a global superpower and to shape a world order more friendly to their decidedly authoritarian regime.” Wray echoed the recent conclusion of U.S. intelligence leaders that China poses the “most consequential threat” to American security.  The American people seem to share that sentiment. Over half of voters view China as the country that poses the greatest risk to the U.S., and a strong majority of Americans believe China is a major threat, according to recent Fox News polling. Meanwhile, a recent Gallup poll found that only 15% of Americans hold a favorable view of China. Neither the Biden campaign nor Katzenberg responded to Fox News Digital’s requests for comment for this story asking if the Hollywood mogul’s ties to China could be problematic for Biden’s re-election.
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