Disney’s “Mulan” remake is facing fresh boycott calls after it was found out that some of the movie scenes were filmed in China’s Xinjiang, where widespread abuse of rights against the region’s Muslim population have been widely documented.
The lavish $200 million budget film about a legendary female Chinese warrior was already tangled in political controversy after star Liu Yifei showed support for Hong Kong’s police as they tackled democracy protests last year.
The latest call for boycotts exploded as soon as the credits stopped rolling after the movie began showing on the Disney+ channel last week.
Milan viewers spotted that Disney included “special thanks” to eight government entities in Xinjiang — including the public security bureau in Turpan, a city in eastern Xinjiang where multiple internment camps have been documented.
Another entity thanked was the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda department in Xinjiang.
Rights groups, academics and journalists have exposed a harsh crackdown against Uighur and Kazakh Muslims in Xinjiang, including mass internments, enforced sterilisations, forced labour as well as intense religious and movement restrictions.
Isaac Stone Fish, a senior fellow at the Asia Society, said the film was “arguably Disney’s most problematic movie” since “Song of the South” — a 1946 glorification of antebellum plantation life that the company has since pulled.
“It’s sufficiently astonishing that it bears repeating,” he wrote in a Washington Post column.
“Disney has thanked four propaganda departments and a public security bureau in Xinjiang, a region in northwest China that is the site of one of the world’s worst human rights abuses happening today.”
Badiucao, a Chinese artist living in Melbourne, said he was currently working on a new cartoon portraying Mulan as a guard at one of the internment camps in Xinjiang to satirise Disney’s new film.
“It’s very problematic and there’s no excuse. I mean, it’s clear, we have all the evidence showing what is going on in Xinjiang,” he told AFP.
The live-action remake of Disney’s 1998 animation classic, “Mulan” has had a troubled release. It was meant to hit global theatres in March but became an early victim of the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead, Disney rocked the industry — and its own cast — by announcing the film would in streamed into living rooms in many markets, including the United States, which it started Friday.
Hollywood has been increasingly accused of hypocrisy over its relationship with authoritarian China.