W

hen REBELLER Dave sent our boss the following viral clip, he asked us to explain it, having not kept up with the ins and outs and what have yous with regard to China and Taiwan. I realized as I was texting back that this, as with most things, can be explained by Top Gun.

As we all know, a sequel to Top Gun is coming in … well, who knows. It’s scheduled to come out in June, I guess. But if you think theaters are going to be up and running around the world in time for Tom Cruise’s triumphant return to the cockpit, well, I have some awfully nice real estate in Brooklyn for purchase that is absolutely positively free of any Chinese plague.

You know what China hates, by the way? People stating the simple fact that this disease originated in China, that it was incubated by the Chinese regime’s repressive tendencies, and that the world is now suffering a horrific health and fiscal crisis because the Chinese failed to take action when stopping the spread of this thing was possible. There’s a reason China has embarked on a PR push that is simultaneously designed to rebrand any discussion of the virus as Chinese in origin as racist and also to try to trick people into thinking that the Forbidden Kingdom is doing a bang-up job fighting this thing. Sure, there were zero new cases in Wuhan! We should totally believe that! Just ignore the fact that they suddenly and mysteriously shuttered theaters throughout the nation last week and instead focus on the fact that they’re delivering supplies and test kits around the world to nations that need them!  

Oh, also, ignore the fact that those test kits they’re sending out don’t work. And ignore the fact that the masks they are distributing are defective. Oops.

Please, also, ignore the fact that the World Health Organization (WHO) has been caping for China since this thing began. As Michael Collins at the Council on Foreign Relations put it way back in February as this thing was spiraling out of control and the Chinese were waving their hands in the air like Kevin Bacon in Animal House screaming all is well, “The WHO’s weak response to China’s mishandling of the COVID-19 outbreak has laundered China’s image at the expense of the WHO’s credibility. The rate of infection in China appears to be declining, but the risk of a global pandemic is increasing.”

The tweet above from @neontaster that sparked the question from my boss is just another sign of how the WHO has kowtowed to China. You see, the Chinese really, really hate it when anyone points out that Taiwan is more or less autonomous from China. They have this whole one-China policy thing, you see. And they’ve used their influence (read: their money) to force organizations like the WHO to more or less erase Taiwan from the political lexicon. If you want to know why a WHO apparatchik panics and hangs up on a video call when the topic of Taiwan comes up, well, it’s because he doesn’t want to anger the Chinese.

Which brings me back to Top Gun.

You may remember last year — back when we had time to care about relatively frivolous stuff like movies, lol — a bit of a controversy cropping up when the trailer for the sequel dropped because Maverick’s flight jacket in the sequel conspicuously airbrushed a Taiwanese patch right out of existence. As Mark McKinnon noted, Japan got the boot too:

And why did stalwart U.S. allies like Taiwan and Japan lose their place of pride on Maverick’s back? It probably has something to do with the fact that Chinese company Tencent is a financial backer of the production and that anything that might anger the Chinese government could get the movie blacklisted from China. Sorry, friends: Don’t want to risk those Beijing Bucks. Surely you understand!

Look, it’s fine to criticize the United States response to the coronavirus outbreak. It’s fine to say that President Trump should have been quicker on the draw, that the CDC should have been prepping tests, that the FDA needs to get off its hands and continue waiving some of these inspection requirements that are hindering our production of masks. But what’s NOT fine is to downplay China’s malfeasance. It’s not fine to buy into the propaganda that they’ve got this thing under control and are leading the world response.

And one way we can signal that China isn’t fine? Our movie industry could stop serving as an auxiliary in Xi’s agitprop wing. Looking at you, Top Gun. Time for Maverick to show some leadership.

Sonny Bunch is the Editor in Chief of REBELLER.