Looking at global box-office winners from the years 2000-2009, this paper finds that the China we encounter on the silver screen, is rarely an antagonist. It is not a China that follows traditional Yellow Peril stereotypes. On the contrary, China might be the saviour of the world, as it is in 2012. Three broad, slightly overlapping categories have been defined to order the Chinese representations.
First we have the 'Magic Kingdom'. Including representations in such movies as Kung Fu Panda, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and Juno, this is the China that exists on a completely different plane than the rest of the world. It is a China marked out by its difference from the rest of the world.
Secondly we have the 'China being China' category. This is the largest group, including such movies as 2012, The Departed, The Dark Knight, Rush Hour 3 and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. The China we encounter in this group is a China that deals with the world, and participates in international affairs.
Thirdly, we have 'America's China'. This group, containing such movies as Rush Hour 2, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and Mission: Impossible 3 denotes movies where any Chinese state is absent. Americans are given a free hand to act as they please, in a China that seems more like an American colony than a sovereign country.
The key finding is that this time period can be called Sinophile – where images of a non-threatening, co-operative China dominates.