Mulan boycott calls grow over scenes filmed in Xinjiang
Hong Kong – Disney’s Mulan remake is facing fresh boycott calls after it emerged some of the blockbuster’s scenes were filmed in China’s Xinjiang, where widespread rights abuses against the region’s Muslim population have been widely documented.
The lavish US$200 million film about a legendary female Chinese warrior was already tangled in political controversy after Chinese-American star Liu Yifei voiced support for Hong Kong’s police as they cracked down on democracy protests last year.
But the latest furore exploded as soon as the credits stopped rolling after the movie began showing on the Disney+ platform on Sept 4.
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.
The revelation has sparked renewed anger at a time of heightened scrutiny over Hollywood’s willingness to bow to authoritarian China.
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 now “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 dissident 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 said.
Baduicao accused Disney of “double standards”, embracing western social justice movements such as MeToo and Black Lives Matter, while turning a blind eye to China’s rights abuses.
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 US. - AFP