- People are furious with Disney’s newly released “Mulan” movie, and have called for a boycott of it.
- The movie’s credits thank government agencies in China’s Xinjang region, where millions of Muslims have been detained, surveilled, and subjected to human-rights abuses for years.
- Reports and watchdogs say people in the region — many of whom are known as Uighurs — are sterilized, made to work for little to no pay, and forced to adopt Chinese culture and deny their own.
- There were already calls to boycott the movie over its star’s public support of the Hong Kong police during pro-democracy protests last year.
- Disney has not commented on the backlash.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Disney is facing backlash for filming its new “Mulan” remake in China’s Xinjiang region, where authorities have built a 21st-century police state to surveil and detain millions of Muslims.
In the movie’s final credits, “Mulan” gave “special thanks” to eight government entities in Xinjiang. These included the public security bureau in the city of Turpan, which is credited with running hundreds of detention camps, and the “publicity department” of the Chinese Communist Party’s Xinjiang branch.
The credits were noted by social media users, who called for a boycott of the movie.
—Jeannette Ng 吳志麗 (@jeannette_ng) September 7, 2020
—CJ Werleman (@cjwerleman) September 7, 2020
The Xinjiang region is the heartland of the Uighur people, a heavily persecuted, mostly-Muslim ethnic group.
The country has detained at least one million Uighurs and other minorities in prison-like camps — which China euphemistically calls “re-education camps” — and has put them under extreme surveillance measures.
Journalists and activists have also accused China of using Uighurs for what amounts to forced labor, the products of which they say are then used by some of the biggest brands in the US and around the world.
Former detainees of the camps have described dire conditions there, as well as physical and psychological torture. The BBC and The Globe and Mail recently published footage from a Uighur man who secretly filmed himself being chained to a bed while having to listen to Communist Party propaganda on speakers.
The Guardian noted that “Mulan” was filmed in 2018, around the same time China increased its Muslim crackdown and sped up the building of the camps. To date, researchers have found at least 500 suspected “re-education” camps.
And in an a recent interview with Architectural Digest, Grant Major, the film’s production designer, said his team had spent months in and around Xinjiang.
The US put the Turpan Bureau of Public Security on an export-restrictions list in July, describing it as being implicated in “human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor and high-technology surveillance against” Uighurs and other groups.
Disney has neither responded to Business Insider’s requests for comment on the backlash, nor issued any public statement about it.
Forced sterilizations, organ-harvesting, cut contacts
Outside the camps, China is also accused of forcibly sterilizing Uighur women and performing abortions on them. The country has also been accused of harvesting the organs of some Uighurs, though it denies the practice.
Reports also say that China is sending ethnically Chinese men to the homes of Uighur women whose husbands were sent to the camps, and that those men frequently sleep in the same beds as them.
China is also reportedly ordering them to redecorate their homes to make them look more Chinese.
Uighurs who live outside China have also told Business Insider of being forced to cut off contact with friends and relatives in Xinjiang for fear of their getting them in trouble.
Leaked classified documents, published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists last year, also showed a concerted effort by regional officials to keep a close eye on Uighurs with foreign citizenship, wherever they are in the world.
Filming in Xinjiang adds to existing controversy over the movie
The movie had already faced backlash and calls for a boycott last year, when Liu Yifei, the movie’s star, voiced her support for the Hong Kong police, who were accused of brutality and harsh tactics against the city’s pro-democracy protesters.
Those calls were renewed when the movie was released this month, with the hashtag #BoycottMulan trending in the US.
Joshua Wong, a student and one of Hong Kong’s leading pro-democracy activists, joined calls for a boycott of the movie on
He said a series of tweets: “While Disney has been completely remaining silent on the Uyghur issue, its cooperations with the officials responsible for brutal crackdowns on Uighur Muslim minority really sends an alarming signal to the world— what kind of values Disney advocates for, especially when the company’s target market is the children worldwide.” (Uyghur is an alternative spelling for “Uighur.”
“It casts more doubts on whether Mulan is the propaganda masterpiece that Disney works hand in hand with the CCP government to whitewash the cultural genocide and human violations on ethnic minorities in the region.”
Hollywood studios have in recent years grown heavily reliant on overseas box offices for revenue, with China being the most important market. China has in the past censored multiple Western movies for political reasons — from sex scenes to LGBT romance — and many Western movies have appeared to alter their content to appease those censors.
—Joshua Wong 黃之鋒 😷 (@joshuawongcf) September 9, 2020
Wong added of “Mulan”: “As the movie is widely considered as an attempt to spread propaganda & whitewash China’s cultural genocide, I also urge Disney to suspend the screening of such a controversial movie and clarify its stance on human rights violations regarding re-education camps in the region.”
The movie – a live-action adaptation of Disney’s 1998 animated movie of the same name — was released this month on the Disney Plus streaming service.
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