In Red Corner, Richard Gere plays an entertainment lawyer who is thrown into solitary confinement and denied his legal rights after being set up. In Seven Years in Tibet, Brad Pitt plays a German mountaineer who gets close to the Dalai Lama during his sojourn in Lhasa.
A third movie, Kundun, from Walt Disney, is about the flight of the Dalai Lama to India after the Chinese occupation of Tibet.
All these movies have a powerful message China is evil, its human rights record stinks and it deserves a good wallop. Whatever the merits of the case, film-makers have reduced the political complexities surrounding these sensitive issues into a few hours of simplistic movie fantasy. The three movies were released when President Jiang Zemin visited Washington for his summit with President Bill Clinton recently. At the same time, Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng was glorified and accorded the questionable title of the Father of Chinese Democracy.
Although considered more of an embarrassment than a hero in China, Newsweek named him Asian of the Year in its latest edition. For the majority of Americans who have never set foot in China, such images created by the media can only be the truth.
The American perception of democracy has always been the holding of elections, the right of an individual and the freedom of expression civil liberties being the sum total of human rights.
Never mind if Russia has been reduced to a beggar state today so long as the people can choose their leaders. From the long bread queue of yesterday, Russians have found that there is nothing to line up for today.
With the strong but subtle American propaganda at work, it is almost impossible to impress upon ordinary Americans that there has been substantial improvements in different categories of human rights in many parts of Asia, especially China. Human rights is not just about civil and political rights. There has to be a broader and more comprehensive view which includes economic, social and cultural rights. It is no good telling a nation of 1.2 billion people that civil rights, in a strictly Western sense, comes first before their next meal. It can't be denied that China's ability to feed its people is an achievement.
It is no good being the world's biggest democracy when the government continuously collapses, wrecking political and socio-economic stability.
China certainly doesn't deserve the bashing from Tinseltown. Over the last 10 years, it has opened up tremendously, allowing its people to travel overseas in large numbers.
It has even tolerated religious practices, which would have been unthinkable during the Mao era. Capitalism has almost become a way of life in China and the pursuit of private wealth is encouraged. The continued expansion of its economy and the creation of a broader middle class will gradually lead to more demands for certain civil and political rights.
They will begin to appreciate the importance of freedom of expression, an independent media and public accountability. Many Americans, including those with good intentions, fail to appreciate the fact that human rights is linked to economic rights. China's achievements, unfortunately, have been overlooked by Hollywood movie-makers who only see a celluloid and imaginative view of its politics. Governing the world's biggest country is no easy job one which James Bond, Indiana Jones and Superman put together will not be able to handle.