This Wascally Wabbit Won't Work in China - Yet US 'TOONS ZAPPED

By Sheila Tefft, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, May 31, 1996 | Go to article overview
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This Wascally Wabbit Won't Work in China - Yet US 'TOONS ZAPPED


Sheila Tefft, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


Bugs Bunny was slated for his Chinese debut tomorrow, headlining television programming for International Children's Day.

So, what's up, Doc?

Plenty. That wascally wabbit and his new Chinese language cartoon show have been yanked from the schedule, victims of a rising Chinese nationalism and trade tensions between China and the US over copyright piracy.

"It's very obvious why American films and serials can't be shown at this time," says Wei Ping, an official with China Central Television, which was to have aired the cartoons. "It's easy to understand given the political atmosphere."

Threatened with a multibillion-dollar, transpacific trade war and playing to public anger over foreign economic presence, China is on the offensive against American exports. In a highly charged atmosphere of patriotism and national pride, American products, name brands, and even garbage are under attack.

Facing a June 17 deadline to reach a copyright agreement, Washington and Beijing pledge to hit each other where it hurts. The US says it will slap punitive tariffs on $2 billion in textiles and electronics, crucial Chinese exports. China says it will retaliate by targeting, among other US exports, films, and TV shows.

Until the dispute is resolved, Bugs Bunny and other cartoon cohorts from the Looney Tunes library, whose broadcasting rights were sold to China by owners Warner Bros. and Turner Broadcasting System, have been postponed. Other copyrighted and legally purchased television shows could follow, Chinese television officials say.

Garbage is another US export China refuses. Since the trade dispute erupted earlier this month, Beijing has been kicking up a stink over proliferating piles of American garbage that are said to contain dangerous waste and to have been imported illegally for recycling.

First, the Chinese press reported the discovery of unmistakably American household wastepaper in suburban Pinggu County outside Beijing. Residents of Xiyu village said they had been complaining about the stench from the rubbish for some time although officials only took action this month. The 640 tons of garbage was traced to a Beijing pulp mill, which had imported and later discarded it last year.

Then, a 540-ton garbage mound, also exported from the United States, was uncovered in Qingdao port in Shandong Province. Twenty containers of hazardous solid waste from the US and Canada, including used batteries and computers, were detected by Chinese customs officials in Shanghai.

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