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Criticism Mounts of Disney's Mulan

Credits thank China for allowing it to be filmed in areas where human rights abuses are alleged
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 8, 2020 8:14 AM CDT

(Newser) – Disney's new Mulan, a live-action remake of the animated original, is now streaming on Disney Plus, but the film is once again courting controversy. Much of it sprang up over the weekend when critics on social media noted that the film's credits thank the Chinese government for allowing it to film in Xinjiang province, where mass detentions and human rights violations involving Uighur Muslims are alleged to be taking place. It's why hashtags such as #BoycottMulan were trending on Twitter. Coverage:

  • Thank-yous: The credits thank several government entities, including the public security bureau in the city of Turpan, which is in charge of what China calls "re-education" and job-training camps for Uighurs in Xinjiang province, per the BBC.

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  • Sample criticism: In a Washington Post column, Isaac Stone Fish runs through the background and is appalled. "It’s sufficiently astonishing that it bears repeating: 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," he writes. Axios China reporter Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian calls it "truly outrageous."
  • Timing: Exactly how closely Disney worked with authorities in Xinjiang was not immediately clear, and Disney has yet to comment, reports the New York Times. But the story notes that it would appear the cast and crew would have been in the region in 2017 as China expanded its crackdown on the Uighurs. Beijing calls the Muslim group a security threat and denies allegations of human rights abuses. (Investigations suggest otherwise.)
  • Other controversy: The film was still weathering an earlier controversy after lead actress Liu Yifei appeared to back China's crackdown on Hong Kong protesters, notes the Verge. “I support Hong Kong’s police, you can beat me up now,” she wrote. “What a shame for Hong Kong.” In a subsequent interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Liu softened the sentiment. "It’s obviously a very complicated situation, and I’m not an expert,” she said. "I just really hope this gets resolved soon. ... I think it’s just a very sensitive situation.” Her comments also led to calls for a boycott of the movie.
  • A debut: All this as the film is expected to debut in Chinese theaters on Friday in what is seen as a key test on whether moviegoers will return to cinemas for a blockbuster amid the pandemic, reports Bloomberg. The movie began streaming on Disney Plus on Sept. 4 for $30, and downloads of the streaming app rose nearly 70% over the weekend, per the story.
(Read more Disney stories.)

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