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Congressional leaders set to warn Hollywood, Silicon Valley leaders on China ties

U.S. lawmakers are heading to Hollywood and Silicon Valley this week to warn Disney (DIS) CEO Bob Iger, Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook and other West Coast executives about their ties to China.

The delegation is being led by Republican Representative Mike Gallagher, who chairs a new House Select Committee on economic and security competition with China. The committee was formed to examine the growing influence of the Chinese government.

On this trip lawmakers hope to send a warning shot to big American companies about their dependence on China and urge them to be more mindful of human rights issues. They also want to make it clear they want to work constructively with companies to drive change. Lawmakers, said a source close to the committee, "are not happy with the status quo."

The trip follows a contentious hearing last month in Washington where TikTok CEO Shou Chew was grilled by members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The hearing largely focused on whether TikTok's Beijing-based parent company ByteDance can ship U.S. users' data to China's government, which could then use it to spy on Americans.

Executive Chairman of the Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger arrives at the world premiere for the film 'The King's Man' at Leicester Square in London, Britain December 6, 2021. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Disney's Bob Iger is expected to meet with lawmakers on Wednesday. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

The delegation headed to the West Coast this week has three days of meetings planned, starting with Iger on Wednesday afternoon. Gallagher is particularly concerned after Disney’s remake of the film “Mulan” thanked Chinese government agencies accused of extreme human rights violations in the Xinjiang province.

The province is home to detention camps that have held Uighur Muslims, where detainees have allegedly been subjected to terrible human rights violations, such as torture.

There will also be meetings with former movie studio execs who want to share their experiences working with China as well as discussions with venture capital firms and leaders from Alphabet's Google (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT) and Scale AI about supply chains and China’s approach towards emerging technologies.

The visit will culminate Friday with a lunch meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook. That discussion will center on concerns about the tech giant’s dependence on China, including exposure via its supply chain to genocide and forced labor. The source close to the committee said Apple needs to be more diversified.

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