Disney released its new live-action remake of Mulan to Disney+ users last Friday, September 4. The long-awaited film reportedly caused a 68% spike in Disney+ subscribers over the weekend. However, not everyone is thrilled about the arrival of the remake. Online, calls to boycott Mulan are growing thanks to a controversial detail in the film’s closing credits.
Eagle-eyed viewers noticed that the credits contain special thanks to government agencies in the region of Xinjiang, an area in China. The Xinjiang region has been the subject of world attention thanks to its population of Muslim citizens known as the Uighurs.
Over the past decade, tensions have arisen between the Uighurs and the Chinese government over ethnic and religious differences. Recent years have seen the Chinese government dramatically step up a campaign to “re-educate” the Uighurs. In 2018, China declared Islam an “ideological illness” that needed to be quarantined, subsequently sending one million Uighurs to concentration camps.
The Chinese government has claimed that the camps are actually job-training centers. However, leaked documents and testimony from former inmates reportedly tells a different story. According to a New York Magazine report, inmates were ground down with Communist Party propaganda, forced to renounce their faith, and forced to consume pork and alcohol. Inmates who were considered especially “ideologically sick” were allegedly tortured and killed.
How Is Mulan Involved?
The camps are reportedly overseen by the police bureau in the city of Turpan — one of the agencies Disney thanks in the Mulan credits. According to the New York Times, filming on Mulan reportedly began in 2018, a year after a major government crackdown on the region began.
Mulan specifically thank the publicity department of CPC Xinjiang uyghur autonomous region committee in the credits.— Jeannette Ng 吳志麗 (@jeannette_ng) September 7, 2020
You know, the place where the cultural genocide is happening.
They filmed extensively in Xinjiang, which the subtitles call “Northwest China”#BoycottMulan pic.twitter.com/mba3oMYDvV
“The film was undertaken with the assistance of the Chinese police while at the same time these police were committing crimes against the Uighur people in Turpan,” Tahir Imin, an Uighur activist based in Washington, told the outlet.
This isn’t the first time the new film has come under public scrutiny. In August 2019, star Liu Yifei stirred controversy for voicing support for Hong Kong’s police department. Her statement came at a time when the department faced worldwide criticism for using excessive force against pro-democracy demonstrators.
Liu explained her comments to the Hollywood Reporter earlier this year. “[I]t’s obviously a very complicated situation, and I’m not an expert,” she said.
Renewed Calls for a Boycott
Still, Liu’s comments caused the hashtag #BoycottMulan to go viral for the first time — and it’s happening again with the film’s premiere. Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong was among many posting reminders of Liu’s comments ahead of its release.
This film is released today. But because Disney kowtows to Beijing, and because Liu Yifei openly and proudly endorses police brutality in Hong Kong, I urge everyone who believes in human rights to #BoycottMulan. https://t.co/utmP1tIWNa— Joshua Wong 黃之鋒 😷 (@joshuawongcf) September 4, 2020
Since then, numerous web users have taken to social media to spread the message.
Mulan thanks Turpan Bureau of Public Security because it was filmed in Turpan in 2018, the peak of re-education campaign. How many thousands of Uyghur were put into camps by Turpan Bureau of Public Security when filming Mulan there? https://t.co/yX0xssPnKW— Shawn Zhang (@shawnwzhang) September 7, 2020
Why we should #BoycottMulan? It’s about hypocrisy. In Hollywood movies, they claim to embrace social justice. In fact, they kowtow to autocratic China disgracefully. They shamed themselves by upholding values they don’t even believe in. Movies, should be more than money.#FreeHK pic.twitter.com/Xmgdyl0NOj— Nathan Law 羅冠聰 😷 (@nathanlawkc) September 7, 2020
On Tuesday, September 8, The Walt Disney Co. did not respond to requests for comment from the Los Angeles Times or the New York Times, those outlets reported.