Days after California voters had handed their governor his biggest political defeat yet by rejecting all four of his ballot initiatives on Nov. 8, Shi Wa Xin Ge was mobbed by the Chinese public on whose minds the verdict of California voters on matters such as tenure for public-school teachers did not weigh heavily. Schwarzenegger's action flicks were among the first Hollywood blockbusters that made it to China courtesy of bootleg videotapes, and the nation rewarded the Austrian-born actor by hosting a week-long Arnold Schwarzenegger Film Festival in 2000the first and only Chinese event of its kind honoring a Western movie star.
Many Chinese are skeptical of President Bush, who will spend three days in China as part of his Asian tour, but that has hardly cooled their ardor for the Governatorfew here know that the two are from the same political party or that Arnie mentioned the Tiananmen massacre in his GOP Convention speech last year. "If I lived in California, I'd vote for him," says Liu Tianyu, a project manager for a multinational firm in Shanghai. "I don't know much about his politics, but he has a very charming attitude."
Certainly, Schwarzenegger will need all of his charm when he shifts the trip's focus from selling Californian productsthink of all the Napa Valley wine that the Chinese could quaff!to convincing China to combat the rampant piracy of Hollywood films and Silicon Valley software. On Thursday, the Governor will attend a premiere of the newest Harry Potter movie in Shanghai, although pirated copies of the film are already widely available in the city.
Some Chinese, however, aren't too concerned with Schwarzenegger's Hollywood credentials. Pan Jiancai, a senior advisor at Zhejiang Mingdian Shoe Co., will be dining at Beijing's Great Hall of the People with the Governor and his trade delegation on Tuesday night. "I don't care if he's a movie star," says Pan. "All we want is the chance to exchange name cards with American businessmen." As befits a member of China's emerging entrepreneurial class, Pan puts business ahead of entertainment any day.