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China Inc is the way to vault to top

By Felix Soh, The Straits Times, Wednesday 28 March 2001

THE significance of the success of the made-in-Asia film, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, goes beyond the four Oscars it harvested at this week's Academy Awards.

It shows that China Inc works.

The film, which its director described facetiously as Bruce Lee meets Jane Austen, clearly demonstrates that Greater China (as China, Hongkong, Taiwan and Macau combined are known) can hold its own against the best that more advanced countries like America offer.

Out of nowhere, the film garnered 10 Oscar nominations Line is overdrawn and has become a runaway hit. It is the highest grossing foreign film in history, reaping well over US$100 million so far in box office receipts.

And the cash register will continue to ring in the months ahead.

In the making of the movie, China provided the inspiration, the luscious and stunning natural backdrop and a rising star, actress Zhang Ziyi. Taiwan provided the director, Lee Ang. Hongkong contributed leading actor, Chow Yun Fatt.

Also lending their expertise were numerous other Chinese, Hongkong and Taiwanese artistes and technical people, such as legendary Hongkong stunt maestro Yuen Wo-Ping.

Through this combined creative energy and talent, China Inc was able to produce a film that transcended language and cultural boundaries to become a huge commercial success.

Yet, this is only a movie. Just imagine the possibilities if the same teamwork was applied to other areas of endeavour - in particular, the political sphere.

The potential is there, waiting to be plucked like a ripe fruit.

But while business cooperation is flourishing, there is deadlock in the political field. Both China and Taiwan are unable to bury their political differences.

There is hope, however, that the triumph of Crouching Tiger would give the reconciliation process a shove in the right direction.

Officially, China is not enamoured with the film, criticising it for pandering to Western tastes. Beijing should change this negative attitude.

It should recognise the reality that if it harnessed the skills and talent of Taiwan and the other Greater China entities, it could vault very quickly to the top internationally.