LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) - U.S. Attorney General William Barr leveled criticism at Walt Disney Co. and other Hollywood companies Thursday, saying filmmakers and studios have censored themselves in line with Chinese propaganda.
Speaking at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, Barr spoke on the growing economic might of the Chinese economy and how the U.S. government believes Hollywood has a history of caving to pressure from Beijing and censoring their films "to appease the Chinese Communist Party."
"I suspect Walt Disney would be disheartened to see how the company he founded deals with the foreign dictatorships of our day," Barr said, citing Burbank-based Disney's apology to China for the 1997 film "Kundun".
Barr also accused of Disney management of "courting" the Chinese government to open its $5.5 billion Disney Shanghai theme park, where Barr says 300 of the park's 11,000 full-time employees are "active members of the Communist Party."
"They reportedly display hammer-and-sickle insignia at their desks and attend Party lectures during business hours," he added.
Barr contrasted Disney's actions with the studio's World War II-era training films used to educate U.S. sailors on navigation tactics. Over 90 percent of Disney employees were involved in the training and public information films during the war, Barr said.
The nation's top prosecutor also took aim at Hollywood actors and filmmakers who Barr says "regularly censors its own movies to appease the Chinese Communist Party, the world's most powerful violator of human rights."
He cited the Brad Pitt film "World War Z", which originally included a scene with characters speculating that the virus may have originated in China.
Paramount Pictures reportedly nixed the China reference in the hopes of landing a Chinese distribution deal that "never materialized", Barr said.
There was no immediate comment from Disney or the Motion Picture Association.
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