Bob Iger, the Walt Disney Company’s chief executive, has been back in office for less than one year. He has a history of cozying up with China to protect corporate interests, while ignoring conservative efforts in the U.S.
After the 2020 election, Iger’s connections to China were under scrutiny. His name was being considered as the U.S. ambassador for China under President Biden. His history with China dates back to 1990s when he and former CEO of Disney Michael Eisner made an apology tour in China for Martin Scorsese’s biographical film, “Kundun,” about the Dalai Lama.
At the time, Eisner called the film “stupid” and promised that Disney would not do anything in the future “insulting our friends.”
Iger was appointed CEO several years later. In 2010, Iger reportedly met with China’s propaganda minister and promised to use the company’s global platform to “introduce” more information about China to the rest of the world.
Iger was invited to the White House state meal for China in January 2011. He was also recognized by the National Committee on U.S. China Relations in October 2011 for his philanthropy work in China. He stated that he visits China each year to promote the U.S.-China relationship.
According to The New York Times, Iger was seated with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a second White House State Dinner for China in September 2015. Iger was also among a group of American executives that welcomed Xi to Seattle for a roundtable of CEOs, co-hosted jointly by the Paulson Institute, and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.
Iger was the vice chair of the U.S. China Business Council and flew to Beijing in May 2016 to meet with Xi at the Great Hall of the People.
The Shanghai Disneyland theme park was opened by Disney in June 2016. It gave the Chinese government a 57% ownership share and a 30% stake in Disney Management Company, which manages the property.
After the opening, Iger stated to CNBC that he has been trying to develop a relationship China for 17 years and that he’d “engaged with three presidents, a few premiers, a lot of vice-premiers, a lot of party secretaries, and five or six mayors in Shanghai.”
Disney began working with Beijing’s Ministry of Culture. One month after Shanghai Disneyland opened in Shanghai, Disney released “Born in China”, a nature film about China.
Iger stated that China welcomed him to the forum and “let us build Shanghai Disneyland”.
Despite Iger’s favorable view of China, Iger’s take on conservative positions within the U.S. is less positive.
Iger stated in May 2019 that filming in Georgia would be difficult due to Georgia’s “heartbeat law,” which bans abortion after six weeks.
The bill was passed, but Disney continues to film films in Georgia. In September, the Disney+ production of “Slumber Party” began in Atlanta.
Iger quit the former President Donald Trump’s business advisory council in June 2017 over Trump’s withdrawal from Paris climate accord.
Iger, however, has resisted the temptation to get involved in political matters concerning China.
Iger remained silent in 2020 as Disney was under fire for filming “Mulan,” the remake of which Disney made in Xinjiang. This is where Muslim Uyghur minorities are mass incarcerated.
The company has not yet condemned the violations of human rights against Muslims in the country.
The Disney board announced Iger’s remarkable return to the company this weekend. They also said that Bob Chapek had resigned from his position as Iger’s successor in 2020.
FOX Business reached out to Disney for comment but they did not respond.