Disney: “No TV Access, No Shanghai Disneyland.” China: ???

In the Hutong
Battling Sleep

In yet another example of the ham-handed arrogance with which Disney has managed its relations with China over the past two decades, Robert Iger, annointed Crown Prince of the Magic Kingdom told Keith Bradsher at the New York Times that unless the Chinese government granted Disney access to Chinese audiences through television, there would be no Shanghai Disneyland.

That probably makes the people in Hong Kong happy. Shanghai Disneyland could not help but compete with Hong Kong, and a third Disneyland would likely threaten the viability of all three parks in the near term. And it probably upsets the Shanghai government something awful.

But what is particularly striking is Iger’s belief that he can use so crude a lever to get what he wants from the Chinese government. He’s going to find his reception in Beijing to be a hell of a lot less cordial than he had hoped.

Who knows? Maybe the gambit will pay off. Maybe the government wants a Disneyland so bad it can taste it.

If not, though, and if the authorities are true to form, they will treat his comments as nothing less than crude public blackmail, and Disney will move to the back of the line for any consideration from SARFT. Because neither SARFT nor China can be seen responding to this kind of corporate thuggery. There would be no end to the practitioners if it did, and that would create a dangerous perception of weakness.