Now, I don’t want to give Sony too much credit for its defiant stand, because removing the Statue of Liberty from “Spider-Man: No Way Home” would have been virtually impossible. The Statue of Liberty is prominently featured throughout the climatic action sequence at the end of the third act, so removing the image would have either required extensive hours of work, costing Sony millions of dollars, or simply resulted in a much shorter and weirder version of the movie. It would have also shaken up a throughline throughout the MCU, as the Statue of Liberty plays a significant role in several of the films.
When Sony declined to make the changes, the Chinese government allegedly countered, asking if the presence of the statue could be minimized, in addition to a few of the more patriotic shots of the film, like Tom Holland standing on top of the crown.
Sony inevitably passed, likely because American audiences would have lost their collective s*** had the edits been made, and even making the changes was not a guarantee the film would have been accepted for release. Blockbusters have proven they can still thrive without needing to cater to foreign censorship standards, and moves like this do point to the hopeful trend of Hollywood finally backing away from appeasing China in the hopes of profitability.