A-list musicians like Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, Maroon 5, Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber – all Universal artists – could find themselves caught in the midst of the U.S.-China trade war. As Beijing hits back at the United States with its own tariffs, the U.S. entertainment industry is feeling the heat.

China is a major market for Hollywood movies. According to Variety, Chinese film officials have advised local buyers against U.S. movies. A distributor relayed that various platforms advised have him not to submit US titles for consideration, and another said there are speculations that private companies cannot import American content. However, industry insiders have said ‘nothing is official’ as there is no document or decree putting a stop on American content.

John Penotti, the producer of Crazy Rich Asians and head of SK Global, was quoted by Straitstimes as saying that the problem is real. Penotti said the industry is operating as if ‘its close to a total shutdown’. Straitstimes said Hollywood depends on China to power its foreign box office, which also drives its film revenue. If the U.S-China trade war escalates, then the U.S entertainment industry will definitely take a hit.

The South China Morning Post has reported that Vivendi, the parent company of record label Universal Music Group, is looking at a partial sale of the music giant to Tencent, a Chinese social media firm. Sources say this is likely to fall under review by the inter-agency committee, which assesses buying of U.S. companies by foreign firms for potential national security risks.

“In order to block Universal’s partial sale, the committee would have to argue that Tencent’s investment in Universal is a risk to national security,” said SCMP. Many experts see this argument is geniune because labels have been collecting users’ listening habits, which peaked with the advent of online streaming.

In 2018, the Trump administration brought about the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act as part of the annual defence bill. This has boosted the committee’s surveillance as it can now monitor minority investments that could provide non-public information to foreign investors.

Apart from Swift and Minaj, other Universal artists who might get caught in the trade war between the two countries are Adele, Elton John and Ariana Grande. 

Rihanna Rihanna's relationship with boyfriend Hassan Jameel is going strong. Pictured: Rihanna attends the Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Anniversary Event at Overseas Passenger Terminal on October 3, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. Photo: Getty Images/Caroline McCredie