Mulan controversy: Disney hits backlash after thanking Xinjiang authorities in film credits

Disney (The district) A number of Chinese government bodies acknowledge the credit for the live-action remake of the 1998 animated picture of the same name, but some have raised particularly red flags: for the publicity department of the Xinjiang government and the Bureau of Public Safety and Tourism, Turpen, A city of about 633,400 people just outside of Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang.

Disney did not respond to requests from CNN Business for its media interrogation line, and comments to American press officials about the film and credits. It is unclear how many shoots “Mulan” can take in Xinjiang, although people working on the film have stated on social media and in interviews that they saw and filmed the locations there.

Beijing has defended the rift in Xinjiang as necessary to combat extremism and terrorism, and said it is in line with Chinese law and international practice, calling the mass detention allegations a “baseless lie” and a “sensational rumor” . A spokesman for the country’s foreign ministry on Tuesday reiterated its defense of Xinjiang as a “vocational skills education and training center”. CNN Business has reached out to the Xinjiang government and the Tourism Bureau of Tarpan, but Tarpan’s Public Security Bureau could not be reached for comment.

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“There are no so-called concentration camps in Xinjiang,” said China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian. “The establishment of vocational skills education and training centers in Xinjiang by law is a fruitful effort and proactive exploration for preventive terrorism and de-radicalization.”

But the connection between Xinjiang and “Mulan” has ignited widespread criticism on social media since the company’s streaming service Disney + was released on Friday. Advocates of human rights are now calling on Disney to come to any agreement with the Chinese government for filming in the region.

“[It’s] Isaac Stone Fish, senior partner in Asia, said Beijing thought it was okay to partner with Beijing, and also, thanks to government departments, especially propaganda departments, and a public security bureau from a region in China that was responsible for the massacre Is complicated with. The society, a New York-based non-profit organization, focused on raising awareness about Asia.

A film plagued by failures

Disney expected “Mulan” to be a major success at the lucrative Chinese box office, now the second largest in the world. The company last year talked about its dedication to making the film culturally accurate – reported in Chinese state media.

“We initially spent a lot of time with scholars, experts and people in the field. We spent a lot of time in China,” said Sean Bailey, president of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production at the Disney Expo event. Last year, the state-run news agency reported to Xinhua. Bailey said the studio not only brought in a Chinese cast as a Chinese producer to film with them, but the outlet said.

Sensing the musicality of Disney’s first animated feature of the same name, a box office analyst told CNN Business earlier this year that the live-action epic was “tailor-made for success.”
But the film – which is based on a traditional Chinese legend, about a female warrior who disguised himself as a man and replaced his father in the military – has already faced controversies and failures .

In August 2019, pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong called for a boycott of “Mulan”, when the lead actor expressed support for the Hong Kong police on his social media account.

“I support the Hong Kong police. You all can attack me now. A Chinese-born American citizen, Liu Yifi, who plays Hua Hul Mulan, was posted on his official Weibo account.” At the time, the Hong Kong police faced allegations of extreme violence against the protesters. (The Hong Kong police defended their actions in September 2019, saying they were “so restrained”).
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Then in March, Disney was forced to delay the release of the film as the movie theaters closed the coronovirus epidemic.
Even now, its rollout has been halted. The film was released as a $ 30 video-on-demand last Friday on Disney +, which is available only in some markets, including the United States. It makes its debut in Chinese theaters this weekend. (Disney + is not available in China.)
The release of the film has given rise to controversy surrounding it. Pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, Thailand and Taiwan have once again called on people to boycott the film due to Yafi’s remarks last year.

And it is also unclear whether the film will win over Chinese audiences, who were already wintry towards the original animated version because of the westernized version and unfaithful retailing of the original legend.

After the trailer was released in 2019, Chinese government media Global Times criticized the film for using Japanese “ninja gestures” and Chinese stereotypes.

Call for transparency

In Xinjiang, there have been allegations of human rights abuses in previous years.

In recent years, the Xinjiang government has allegedly launched a major campaign to imprison and re-educate Muslim minorities in the region, particularly the larger Uygar population.

Evidence of widespread human rights abuses has spilled out from inside the area, including widespread condemnations, abuses, mass molestation and mass birth control – which experts have described as evidence of “genocide”.
In 2017, original director Nikki Karo posted a photo from Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang And said that she was locating locations for the film. And in an interview in September With Condé Nast Traveler, Mullan production designer Grant Major discussed filming in the Taklamakan Desert of Xinjiang, in the far southwest of the region.

Adrian Zenz, a prominent academic Victims of the Communism Foundation, which helped break Xinjiang’s major stories, said that in 2013 the earliest documented case of a re-education center in the region was in trumpet.

Zhenj said that while it was possible that Disney was not aware of the increasing number of detention centers set up in Xinjiang, it was impossible to recall the widespread persecution in the region.

“By the end of 2016 there were police stations and outposts in Xinjiang that would not be missed,” he said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao dismissed Zenz’s claims and accused him of making a living through “making rumors related to Xinjiang and defaming China”. He also claimed that in Xinjiang “there were no cases of violence or terrorism for more than three consecutive years”.

According to state media, Tarnap was also established for one of the worst outbreaks of ethnic violence in Xinjiang in 2013, killing 35 people during an attack on a police station in Lukun Township in 2013 .
Researcher Yakiu Wang of China’s Human Rights Watch asked for Disney What help disclosed It had met with Xinjiang authorities and what agreements it had made with the regional government.

And Stone Fish, partner of the Asia Society, said that many companies were accustomed to making small concessions to the ruling Communist Party to reach the Chinese market.

“The studios feel that they need to make these agreements to be in Beijing, but you can censor a little to get your films to the Chinese market, you can bring Chinese movies that are of poor quality or due to publicity The reason should not be in the states. Elements in the states. And you can do that and maintain your integrity, mostly intact, “he said.

“You don’t have to take these extra steps that Disney is taking, and they are emitting right for it.”