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April 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Michael Peyser

Reports that the SEC is looking into dealings between the major Hollywood studios and the Chinese government come as no surprise to studio executives who regularly are required to deal with China. Producer Michael Peyser, who is currently in Beijing exploring co-production opportunities with the Chinese, told today’s (Thursday) Los Angeles Times, “China favors a culture of favors. I’m not saying that there aren’t dirty dealings, but my sense is that the Hollywood studios are aware of how things work and understand the difference between influence and corruption.” (The Times observed that Chinese film companies pass an envelope with about $30 to journalists attending their press conferences.) But Mathew Alderson, a Beijing-based entertainment lawyer, told the Times, “Those in the film business who regarded China as the Wild West are now in for a shock because the sheriff just rode in.” And in an article headlined “SEC Inquiry Could Complicate China Biz,” Daily Variety observed, “Execs expressed frustration that business dealings were being scrutinized shortly after China agreed, after heavy lobbying by the MPAA and Vice President Joe Biden, to expand the number of non-native films allowed into the country from 20 to 34.” Word of the possible SEC probe came on the same day that Disney chief Robert Iger was meeting with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, but there was no mention of it in statements released by the two men following their confab.