Disney is under fire again for thanking Chinese governmental entities in Xinjiang, where a roughly estimated million of Muslim Uighurs are held in detention camps.
Mulan, the live re-inaction of 1998 animated story of a young girl who takes her father’s place in the army, was one of the most awaited films of the year.
However, after the film’s livestreaming release on Friday many viewers noticed that the film credited several government agencies in Xinjiang.
Among those that received “special thanks” was the Chinese Communist Party’s “publicity department” which is in charge of propaganda in Xinjiang.
Fans in several Asian countries called for a boycott after Chinese-born actress Liu Yifei made comments supporting Hong Kong’s police who have been accused of violence against pro-democracy protesters in recent months. Ms Yifei showed support for the Hong Kong police. “I support the Hong Kong police”, Liu posted on Weibo, a Twitter-like social media platform in China. “You can all attack me now. What a shame for Hong Kong.” As reported by CNN, the hashtag #BoycottMulan was instantly born.
Jeannette Ng, a writer and novelist from the United Kingdom, posted a screenshot of the film credits on social media, noting that Xinjiang was “the place where the cultural genocide is happening”. She noted that Mulan “filmed extensively” in the region.
The World Uygar 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?”
Turpan was the site of the first “re-education camps” where Uighur women wearing veils or men wearing beards were detained, Mr Zenz explained. The public security bureau is also responsible for managing construction of the camps and hiring police to staff them, he added.
The earliest evidence of “re-education” work of Uighurs in Turpan is from August 2013, Mr Zenz claims.
In June he issued a report which uncovered evidence that China was forcing Uighur women to be sterilised or fitted with contraceptive devices, a practice that China denies.
In an opinion piece published in The Washington Post, Asia Society Senior Fellow Isaac Stone Fish wrote that by choosing to film in Xinjiang, the Walt Disney producers were helping “normalise a crime against humanity”.
He called the film “a scandal”, noting that the producers “worked with four propaganda departments” in Xinjiang to shoot the film.
Hong Kong pro-democracy leader Joshua Wong said the latest revelation was another reason to boycott Mulan, writing that viewers could become “potentially complicit in the mass incarceration” of Muslim Uighurs.
Wong had earlier called for a boycott of the film following statements from actress Liu Yifei supporting the China-backed government in Hong Kong. He accused her of turning a blind eye to “police brutality” in the territory.
Walt Disney Studios and Mulan’s director Niki Caro did not reply to the backlash or made any comments on the issue.