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THREE STORIES IN THE KEY OF: CHINA GOES TO THE MOVIES

THREE STORIES IN THE KEY OF: CHINA GOES TO THE MOVIES

Sometimes your Signal authors look to beat the July heat in an air-conditioned movie house. Then, bored with the latest summer blockbuster, it isn’t long before we’re scanning the screen for signs of political trends. Today, we check out three big stories from China’s summer movie season.


First, Hollywood has long wanted a bigger slice of China’s movie market, already the world’s second largest. US producers want more American films allowed into China and a bigger cut of the box office. But like every other aspect of the current US-China trade relationship, things aren’t moving forward. Why are American movies especially vulnerable to the growing trade war? They’re one of the very few products China imports from the US at much higher values than the US imports from China. Tough luck for Tinsel Town.

Second, we learned this week that high-budget Chinese films can do “box office belly flops” worthy of the worst of their US counterparts. A fantasy epic based on Tibetan mythology called “Asura,” with a more than $100 million price tag, reportedly the most expensive movie ever produced by China’s film industry, opened on July 13 (pictured above). It offered big-name stars and stunning visual effects, but the film’s opening weekend brought in just $7 million, and the film quickly disappeared from theaters without explanation. It appears China’s movie-going middle class is looking for something that hits a little closer to home. Looks like they’ve found it...

Third, on July 5, a much lower budget film opened in China to greater success. “Dying to Survive” is a black comedy about a man who sells oils he claims can cure erectile dysfunction. Faced with the suffering of a desperate leukemia patient, he organizes a motley crew of smugglers to help obtain a life-saving drug at affordable cost from India. This comedy about high drug prices won a standing ovation and raves at last month’s Shanghai Film Festival, and it now looks bound for box office glory.

The bottom line: China’s fast-growing film industry is beginning to reflect the pressures facing the country and its people.

Meet Alessandra Cominetti, a recipient of MIT Technology Review Magazine's Innovators Under 35 award. As a lab technician at Eni's Research Centre for Renewable Energy in Novara, Alessandra has devoted her career to finding new solutions and materials to optimize solar energy. Much like the serendipitous encounter that resulted in her employment, her eagerness and willingness to try new things allowed her to stumble upon a material for the creation of portable solar panels.

Watch her remarkable story on the latest episode of Faces of Eni.

Joe Biden has vowed to radically change the US' approach to foreign policy and international diplomacy should he win next week's election.

But a lot has happened in four years under Donald Trump that could impede Biden's ability to simply return to the status quo ante. How different would US foreign policy really be under a Biden presidency? What will the two-term former vice president likely be able to change, and what's bound to remain the same, at least for now?

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Kevin Sneader, Global Managing Partner at McKinsey & Company, provides perspective on what corporate business leaders are thinking during the global coronavirus crisis

Should big business care about small business in these times?

The answer is yes and for many reasons. First, small business is the lifeblood of our economies. 45% of employment in emerging countries and 70% in the OECD comes from small and medium enterprises. Moreover, these enterprises have been badly hit by the crisis. Surveys indicate as many as 50% of European small to medium enterprises feel they may not survive over 12 months. While SMEs are relying on government support, larger companies do have a role to play. After all, this includes prioritizing small business and procurement by locking in demand for multiple years, thus facilitating access to good credit, paying receivables to small business in time and where possible, ahead of schedule. Cash flow matters most when you're small. Looking out for small businesses that have lower resilience. For example, financial institutions can lend more and in doing so, ensure deeper customer relationships in the future.

In his latest Financial Times op-ed, Martin Wolf argues that the US global role is at stake in this election and that a Trump re-election would undo America's legacy of democratic leadership in the world. Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group's Jeffrey Wright grabbed the Red Pen to argue that a Trump presidency exists in part because of Americans' rejection of the US's post-war leadership role, and these feelings run deeper than the article suggests.

Today, we're taking The Red Pen to a recent op-ed published in The Financial Times from my good friend, the chief economics commentator Martin Wolf. Martin argues the global role of the United States is at stake on November 3rd, and that a Trump reelection would undo America's legacy of democratic leadership in the world. There's been a lot of this sort of thing recently. I know, we did it once, but if we do it twice, it's all over and I'm not there. To be clear, we don't totally reject what Martin is presenting in this piece. Rather, we'd argue that a Trump presidency exists because there were feelings that were present in the United States before he came along and they run a lot deeper than the article suggests. In other words, it's really not all about Trump.

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"The top priority will be to announce to the world that the United States they've known for decades is back." Former top Obama diplomat and current CEO of the think tank New America Anne-Marie slaughter predicts an American revival on the global stage if Joe Biden wins the presidency. But at a time when the United States has never been more divided, can any nation, even the world's most powerful, be a global leader if it cannot even keep its own house in order? Ian Bremmer's conversation with Slaughter is part of a new episode of GZERO World.

Watch the episode: How a "President Biden" could reshape US foreign policy

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