Doughnut or croissant? The freedom of choice is not self-evident in the movie industry, neither in Europe nor in China, argues Rogier Creemers in his chapter on cultural products and WTO with focus on China.

The trade with cultural and media products is often associated with controversies, which are not that visible for an average person enjoying a good French movie in the cinema. The choice of movies we have the possibility to watch is often the result of a battle between market forces, promoting liberalization, and government policies, focusing on regulation. These issues were also discussed during the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations between the European Union (EU) and the United States (US), when Europeans voiced their fears that unrestrained and unregulated trade with cultural goods would represent a death sentence for the (often subsidized) European movie industry, which could only hardly compete with its affluent counterparts in Hollywood. As Rogier Creemers mentions in his chapter “Cultural Products and the WTO: China´s Domestic Censorship and Media Control Policies” in the book “China´s Influence on Non-Trade Concerns in International Economic Law,” the unrestrained liberalization of the movie industry represented a significant blow for the cinema in Taiwan and Hong Kong, which were not able to cope with the invasion of Hollywood movies. These concerns are even more significant and sensitive in the case of a country like China, which protects its cultural and media industries not only for commercial but also for political reasons. The unrestrained invasion of cultural products from the Western countries is perceived on the one hand as a threat for the stability of the regime and on the other hand as a form of cultural imperialism undermining Chinese values. As a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), China justified its efforts in this field in the case China-Publications and Audiovisual Products; however, the observers wonder whether China will make genuine efforts to implement the Appellate Body´s findings in the pertinent case. The position of the Appellate Body in the case was also heavily criticized among scholars for not paying enough attention to social and political aspects of the case. Examples like this show that there is no unequivocal consensus concerning, on the one hand, the liberalization in the cultural and media field and protectionist initiatives on the other. Rogier Creemers´s account in his chapter provides valuable insights into this topic, paying attention not only to international but also to Asian, in particular, Chinese perspective.