Chinese streaming services abruptly pulled Keanu Reeves movies from their catalogs this week when the actor voiced his support for Tibet and Tibetan independence. According to a report by The L.A. Times, Chinese streaming services iQiyi, Tencent Video, Bilibili and Xigua Video have all removed movies starring Reeves since he appeared at a pro-Tibet event on March 3. So far, Reeves has not commented directly on this move.
At least 19 movies starring Reeves were removed from Chinese streaming services this month. According to a report by Indie Wire, the streamers were previously known to have licensed the original Matrix trilogy as well as Speed, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, Something's Gotta Give and The Lake House, among others. The only exception seems to have been Toy Story 4, which was left on the services Youku and Migu Video, but with the credits edited to remove Reeves' name.
This all stems from an event that Reeves attended virtually on March 3. He joined the 35th annual Tibet House Benefit Concert, which was held via video chat in support of the Dalai Lama and his nonprofit efforts. Reeves does not seem to have ever commented directly on the Chinese annexation of Tibet starting in 1950.
Following the Chinese Civil war, the People's Republic of China was dominant in 1950 and it initiated the annexation of Tibet. The current Dalai Lama had just been enthroned at the time, and he negotiated the Seventeen Point Agreement with the Chinese government to maintain autonomy under Chinese rule. The Dalai Lama was soon forced into exile, however, and he repudiated the agreement.
The Dalai Lama is now the leader of a Tibetan government-in-exile which is based in Dharamsala, India, where many followers of Mahanaya Buddhism also live. The people in Tibet have made several attempts to liberate themselves from China over the decades – most recently in 2008. The Dalai Lama no longer officially advocates for Tibetan independence, but instead for "more meaningful autonomy within the People's Republic of China" for Tibetans and other people of various nationalities, ethnicities and religious faiths.
In spite of this, the Chinese government maintains a harsh position against the Dalai Lama. According to a report by Radio Free Asia back in January, the Chinese government now requires Tibetan people to renounce the Dalai Lama and pledge allegiance to the Communist Party before they can accept a job in government offices, schools or hospitals. Apparently, that now extends to actors like Reeves as well.
It's hard to guess who will lose out in this new arrangement – Reeves or the Chinese government. On one hand, Reeves and his collaborators have now lost out on the largest moviegoing market in the world. On the other, China now has to try and enforce a ban on one of the most beloved actors in the world, with at least three blockbuster movies in the works. Reeves' next movie, DC League of Super-Pets hits theaters on July 29, 2022.