Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger Thursday met with China’s powerful president Xi Jinping. The meeting took place at the ceremonial Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
It is considered rare for Xi to meet with foreign business leaders, especially in public. Iger is also vice chairman of the U.S.-China Business Council.
The meeting took place some six weeks before the opening of the Shanghai Disney Resort theme park in Shanghai.
It also took place shortly after it emerged that China had closed down DisneyLife, a streaming video service that Disney launched at the end of 2015 in a joint venture with Alibaba.
Xi is understood to have called for the deepening of cultural and commercial relations between China and the U.S.
“China will provide convenience for foreign businesses, institutions and individuals to have exchanges and cooperation with China,” official news agency Xinhua reported Xi as saying. “China is in favor of reaching a bilateral investment treaty through negotiations at an early date.”
His comments also come at a time when a growing number of foreign companies operating in China have complained about rules, regulations and business practices being loaded in favor of Chinese businesses and against foreign enterprises.
“Against the current backdrop, it’s very important for China and the US to deepen economic and trade cooperation and we support to reach China-US bilateral investment treaty through talks as early as possible, which is beneficial to enterprises and companies in both two countries,” Iger said according to a CCTV transcript. “The Walt Disney Company highly values the cultural exchange between China and the US. Shanghai Disney Resort will spare no efforts to provide safe and high-quality service for all the guests.”
In the entertainment sector, the recently introduced rules on foreign media joint ventures is one such complaint. Another area of possible contention will come from February next year when China’s rules on film imports, quotas and local distribution come up for discussion and renewal.