Top Gun: Maverick, the highly anticipated sequel to the 1968 blockbuster, hit theaters Memorial Day weekend and has enjoyed huge, record-breaking success, pulling in over $600 million at the worldwide box office.

What makes its successful performance notable is that the film was never released in the world’s top movie market, a country of 1.4 billion people: China.

In the original film, Tom Cruise’s character, Maverick, wore a jacket featuring Japanese and Tawainese flags, which fans quickly noticed had been removed in the first trailer for the sequel. The decision to alter the iconic jacket was made to appease the Chinese Communist Party and secure a Chinese release for the film as the Tawainese flag is a banned symbol in that country.

Audiences were pleased, however, to see the restoration of both flags in the final movie. The studio’s decision to ignore CCP censorship guidelines ultimately ruled out the possibility of Top Gun receiving a Chinese release date, but the film has performed well commercially without it.

Historically, China, with its massive population, has been considered an unmissable customer base for American businesses, which have become servile to the demands of the CCP.

Desperate to compete in one of the largest consumer markets in the world, corporate America turns a blind eye to egregious crimes against humanity and even self-censors so as to comply with the CCP’s strict messaging regulations.

SEE ALSO: Lebron James Looks the Other Way on China’s Human Rights Abuses. Here’s Why I Never Will.

Top Gun: Maverick bucked this trend. And it proved to the world that genuflecting before China is not mandatory for commercial success.

But Top Gun is not the only film in recent history to do so. In fact, there seems to be a new, rising trend within Hollywood against caving to the Chinese government’s sway.

Spider-Man: No Way Home – the first pandemic-era film to make more than $1 billion and the third-highest-grossing movie of all time at the domestic box office – was also banned in China after Sony refused to remove the Statue of Liberty or lessen its significance in the film per the CCP’s request.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness likewise did not receive a release in China due to the brief, barely visible appearance of a newspaper box for the conservative, anti-CCP newspaper The Epoch Times.

The previous Doctor Strange film grossed over $100 million in China. Seemingly, by refusing to remove a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it reference to The Epoch Times, the studio forwent potentially tens of millions of dollars.

Nevertheless, the sequel still managed to pull in $900 million, substantially more than its predecessor, and it did so without a single dollar from Chinese markets.

Of course, Hollywood is still a corrupt entity, usually opposed to the values of middle America. My point isn’t to applaud Hollywood for lining its pockets or even to endorse these films that defied CCP control.

SEE ALSO: 5 Movies Every American Should Watch

When I cheer the success of any movie that makes it big without China, I’m not cheering for the movie itself and certainly not for the Hollywood execs who pull in yet another hefty paycheck, but for the message that it sends to corporate America:

If Spider-Man and Top Gun can shatter box office records while at the same time ignoring the CCP’s censorship demands, then kowtowing to the pressures of an evil regime is no longer necessary.

Of course, a company’s bottom line never should have dictated whether turning a blind eye to human rights violations was permissible or not. If Hollywood had even an inkling of decency to boast of, it would have stood up to China long ago.

The CCP is evil through and through. It is responsible for population control, mass surveillance, religious persecution and genocide, and every time Hollywood or any other entity (I’m looking at you, NBA) compromises itself to comply with the Chinese government’s censorship, it is complicit.

That’s why any hint that America is breaking free from China’s hold should be celebrated. Top Gun easily could have kept the adjustments to Maverick’s jacket and it would have made millions of more dollars. Instead, it chose not to participate in CCP corruption and proved that America does not need China’s money.

Will the rest of corporate America be willing to do the same?

Jakob Fay is a former SIA Coordinator and current writer for the Convention of States Project, a project of Citizens for Self-Governance

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