WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — Amid the sonic booms and the high-flying action of “Top Gun: Maverick,” it might be easy to miss the real bomb dropped by the filmmakers.
A small official flag of Taiwan on actor Tom Cruise’s bomber jacket, once removed at the demand of the Chinese government, is now back in the new sequel, putting its release in mainland China in jeopardy.
In 2019, the film’s trailer showed Cruise’s character, U.S. Navy pilot Pete Mitchell, in the same bomber jacket he wore in the original film 36 years ago, with patches that bore flags that represent Taiwan and Japan appearing to have been swapped out and replaced with two ambiguous symbols in the same color scheme, CNN reported.
The flag — a statement — is already making waves with one of the Hollywood blockbuster’s financial backers. The Chinese-owned firm Tencent has pulled its money out, and it’s likely the Chinese government will no longer allow the film to run, which may lead to potentially billions in revenue the film will miss.
“Under Xi’s authoritarian system in China, they are using every part of their economy, military to carry out their political goals,” said U.S. Rep. John Garamendi, who believes this behavior isn’t surprising.
China uses its economic leverage to pressure American firms politically.
The Chinese Communist Party refuses to acknowledge Taiwan exists independently from mainland China even though the island nation governs itself.
Dozens of major corporations and filmmakers have fallen in line, removing or apologizing for simple references to Taiwan.
“We are exporting this Americana and the messages that come with it to China,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
The NBA famously took China’s side when one of its team owners spoke out about China’s human rights abuses.
So far, it appears the new “Top Gun” film will be the exception.