Amidst growing controversy surrounding Disney’s recently-released live action adaptation of the animated children’s film ‘Mulan’, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers has reached out to Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Chapek to ask about the company’s connection with authorities in the Xinjiang region of China, where parts of the film were shot.
This comes after the film faced a fresh wave of criticism after several government authorities in the Xinjiang region — where over a million Muslim Uighurs are being held in internment camps — were named in the film’s credits section.
Chairs send bipartisan letter to @Disney inquiring about the filming of #Mulan in #Xinjiang #Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and #Disney’s relationship with security and propaganda entities responsible for committing, or covering up, atrocities in the #XUAR. pic.twitter.com/ucKTc7o1LV
— China Commission (@CECCgov) September 11, 2020
“Disney’s apparent cooperation with officials of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) who are most responsible for committing atrocities — or for covering up those crimes — is profoundly disturbing,” the letter, shared on Twitter by the US’ Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), read.
The letter, which was co-signed by nearly two dozen Republican and Democratic lawmakers, listed out 10 main queries directed to the film’s makers. They asked whether the film and production teams were aware of the mass surveillance and detention of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the region. They also inquired whether the team made use of “Uighur or other ethnic minority labour” while shooting the film.
“The decision to film parts of Mulan in cooperation with the local security and propaganda elements, offers tacit legitimacy to those perpetrators of crimes that may warrant the designation of genocide,” the letter read, according to a report by Reuters.
The lawmakers who signed the letter include Republican Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley as well as Wyoming Republican Representative Liz Cheney, Bloomberg reported. The CECC is an independent agency that closely monitors human rights abuses in China and submits an annual report to US President Donald Trump and Congress, Reuters reported.
In its credits, the film extended a “special thanks” to top government bodies like the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Publicity Department, as well as the Public Security Bureau and Tourism Department of Turpan — a city near Xinjiang with a large Uighur population.
While the Turpan Public Security Bureau has been accused of committing human rights violations and abuses in the region, the CCP’s Publicity Department is known to spread propaganda messages across Xinjiang.
According to data released by the US State Department, as many as two million Muslim-majority Uighurs and other Turkic minorities have been imprisoned in massive re-education camps in Xinjiang since 2015, a CNN report stated.
This is not the first controversy the film has been embroiled in recently. Soon after its release, a number of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong called for its boycott over comments made by the film’s lead actress Yifei Liu in support of the city’s police, who have been accused of violently cracking down on anti-government demonstrators.
The 33-year-old actress, who was born in China but is a citizen of the United States, took to popular Chinese social media platform Weibo to share the words of Fu Guohao, a reporter for the Chinese Communist Party-run media outfit Global Times, who was assaulted by a group of pro-democracy demonstrators and was later touted a hero on Chinese social media.
“I support the Hong Kong police. You can beat me up now,” her post read. In another post shared soon after, she wrote: “I also support the Hong Kong police.” Yifei’s post was widely condemned on social media, and before long #BoycottMulan began trending on Twitter — a platform that is banned in China.