Disney’s Bob Iger is rumoured to be interested in becoming the US ambassador to China. The executive chairman of Walt Disney Co. is apparently keen to take on the role, despite what some commentators see as potential difficulties with such an appointment.
Bob Iger is widely reported to be in the running for the post of US ambassador to China. While cabinet positions are the major focus of the incoming administration at present, ambassadorships are also quietly being discussed according to sources close to the Biden team.
Iger has been a firm supporter of Joe Biden during his presidential campaign and he also has a long-standing relationship with President Xi Jinping of China.
The post would certainly be unorthodox – ambassadorships are usually offered to career politicians. Linda Thomas Greenfield, a 35-year veteran of the foreign service, has been tapped for ambassador to the United Nations.
But it could also be unpopular. Sonny Bunch, writing in the Washington Post said, “Disney’s Bob Iger shouldn’t be ambassador to China. No Hollywood executive should be.”
Critics are concerned that politics and business could become unethically entwined. Disney has extensive connections with China, with huge investment in theme parks and film productions over the last few years.
Iger isn’t the only name connected with Disney to be touted for an ambassadorial post. According to the Hollywood Reporter, producer Matt Walden, husband of Dana Walden, chairman of Walt Disney Television, has been suggested for an ambassador post, potentially in Europe.
If Iger doesn’t get the Chinese posting, the UK has been touted as another possibility. The Disney chairman has made no secret of his political ambitions, having considered a presidential run himself at one point.
Iger looked to China during the pandemic
Iger stepped down as CEO of Disney in February. However he has taken a more active role than anticipated in the company during 2020, helping replacement Bob Chapek navigate the tough climate.
It’s been suggested that it may take two years for Disney’s theme parks to return to normal. With this in mind, Iger looked to China for ways to return to normalcy within the confines of the pandemic.
Iger joined an 80 person taskforce to develop economic recovery strategies in response to the pandemic. The taskforce was set up by governor of California, Gavin Newsom. Iger was joined by Tim Cook, CEO of Apple and billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer, amongst others. The impact of COVID-19 lockdowns on theme parks in California is significant, with the state under restrictions for 9 months.