When Tony Stark uses a Chinese smartphone, China's clout in Hollywood becomes crystal clear. In "Captain America: Civil War," the billionaire hero who builds his own hologram interfaces and super suits chooses to wield a transparent concept phone by Vivo, a brand sold only in China. It's just the latest example of how Hollywood is appealing to China in the midst of a major box office boom.

For China, the film industry’s lure is evident. China hopes to tap into Hollywood’s expertise as it builds up its own nascent entertainment industry. It also understands popular culture’s potential as a PR platform for the Chinese Communist Party on the global stage.

In this week's roundup, culture maintains its central role in public diplomacy

Companies are snapping up US film studios, which all want a piece of the mainland’s booming box office. But there is no such thing as a free lunch, warn observers. [...] The US$3.5 billion agreement [to buy Legendary Pictures]  is the largest cultural takeover by China, with American studios keen to capitalise on its burgeoning cinema market at a time when Beijing is pushing entertainment as a source of “soft power”.

China has a new ally in its campaign to turn itself into a global cultural superpower: Matt Damon. And, behind him, a good chunk of Hollywood as well. Chinese leaders have long sought international cultural influence, aka "soft power," commensurate with the nation's economic might. 

For the second year in a row, #OscarsSoWhite has dragged America’s diversity problem back into the global spotlight. [...] Yet the recent report by USC’s Annenberg School found that not much has changed—only seven percent of films in the past year had casts that accurately reflected the nation’s actual demographics. 

CPD opens its film diplomacy vault, just in time for Oscar Sunday.