#BoycottMulan Trends on Twitter After Disney Thanks Xinjiang Officials Detaining Millions of Uyghurs
Calls to ban the Disney production Mulan stormed Twitter after reports that scenes from the movie were shot in the Xinjiang province where there reportedly exist mass concentration camps detaining at least a million Uyghur Muslims.
Disney has also been criticised after viewers noticed that the studio offers its “special thanks” in the end credits of the film to eight government entities in Xinjiang, including the public security bureau in the city of Turpan and the "publicity department of CPC Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomy Region Committee”.
According to experts, the public security bureau in Turpan is tasked with running China's "re-education" camps where Uighurs are held in detention and the "publicity department" named by Disney is responsible for producing state propaganda in the region.
A Reuters exclusive reports that Chinese authorities have instructed major media outlets to specifically not cover Walt Disney Co’s release of “Mulan”, in an order issued after controversy erupted overseas over the film’s links with the Xinjiang region. No reason was given in the notice, but the sources said they believed it was because of the overseas backlash over the film’s links to Xinjiang.
This lack of publicity will largely impact the release of the production in local theatres on Friday as it deals another blow to the $200 million production that has already received mixed reviews and large amounts of backlash online.
This is not the first time Mulan has come under public criticism, as last year, Yifei Liu, the leading actress, faced backlash for extending support for Hong Kong police’s brutal abuse of force during the pro-democracy movements.
On social media, Liu reshared an image posted by People’s Daily, China’s state-owned newspaper, which says: “I support the Hong Kong police. You can beat me now. What a shame for Hong Kong.” #Boycott Mulan has been trending since then.
The movie has also been called out for its allegedly Chinese nationalist narrative that paints the Huns as bad people and the Han-Chinese as peace lovers, echoing the communist party’s claims against religious minorities in China as extremists who pose a threat to the peace and stability of the country and thus require “re-education”.
The production company, that caters mainly to children, has come under heavy fire for its endorsement of the authoritarian regime with visible genocidal intent towards minority communities in the country. The cooperation between Disney and the authorities suggests that the House of Mouse sees the Chinese market as essential for its business to expand, noting that the potential box office revenue in China is huge compared to other countries.
Disney has a long relationship with China, having worked closely with the authorities before to launch the Disneyland resort in Shanghai in 2016.
The World Uyghur Congress tweeted "in the new Mulan, Disney thanks the public security bureau in Turpan, which has been involved in the internment camps in East Turkistan."
Activist Shawn Zhang also criticised the company, writing "how many thousands of Uighur were put into camps by Turpan Bureau of Public Security when filming Mulan there?"
A leak of documents made to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), last year revealed the kind of treatment that Uyghur Muslims face in those ‘re-education’ camps, drawing comparisons to the concentration camps in Nazi Germany.
A leaked nine-page memo sent out in 2017 by Zhu Hailun, then deputy-secretary of Xinjiang's Communist Party and the region's top security official gives explicit instructions to those who run the camps to ensure that the camps are run as high security prisons, with strict discipline, punishments and no escapes.
In July, the United States sanctioned Zhu Hailun as the architect of China’s mass internment camps, along with three other Chinese officials for human rights abuses against the Uighur Muslim minority.