Thu. Sep 24th, 2020

Disney Studios Under Fire For Filming ‘Mulan’ in China’s Xinjiang Province

Disney’s big-budget remake of Mulan, already the subject of a pro-democracy boycott,  has come under additional fire for filming scenes in China’s Xinjiang Province, where Beijing is accused of perpetrating human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims on a massive scale.

Not only did Disney shoot in the region, but the studio appears to have offered its gratitude to several of the Chinese government agencies involved in alleged abuses.

Following Mulan‘s release on Disney+ on Friday, some viewers began noticing a “special thanks” in the film’s end credits to eight government entities in Xinjiang, including the public security bureau in the city of Turpan, where China is believed to operate over a dozen “re-education camps” that hold Uighurs in extra-judicial detention.

Mulan‘s credit sequence also extends a thank you to the “publicity department of CPC Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomy Region Committee,” the Chinese Communist Party agency responsible for producing and managing state propaganda efforts in the region.

For years, China has been under international scrutiny for its treatment of Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. It’s estimated that over 1 million Uyghur residents have been detained in extrajudicial internment camps. Uighur residents have reported being subjected to grueling political indoctrination regimens, forced labor and forced sterilization — part of an alleged government program to suppress birth rates in the Muslim population.

China says the detention camps in Xinjiang are necessary to improve the region’s security.

Mulan reportedly shot in approximately 20 locations in China, including the Mingsha Shan desert, which stretches into Xinjiang, and the Tuyuk Valley, to the east of Turpan. Mulan‘s part of production team told Architectural Digest earlier this year that they spent months in Xinjiang researching locations before filming began. The film’s director, New Zealander Niki Caro, also shared a photo of dessert sand dunes in 2017, captioning it “Day 5 Scout” and tagging the location as “Asia/Urumqi,” the capital of Xinjiang.

Mulan stars Chinese-American actress Liu Yifei as a young Chinese woman who disguises herself as a man to spare her elderly father from required military service.

The film, which was made for $200 million before marketings, was already the subject of controversy following social media comments made by Liu last summer supporting the Hong Kong police force’s crackdown on the city’s pro-democracy movement. Over the weekend, backlash to Liu’s comments has resumed, with democracy and human rights activists in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand banding together under a growing #BoycottMulan campaign.

Some of those activists have since taken notice of the growing Xinjiang controversy. Prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joseph Wong tweeted: “It just keeps getting worse! Now, when you watch #Mulan, not only are you turning a blind eye to police brutality and racial injustice (due to what the lead actors stand for), you’re also potentially complicit in the mass incarceration of Muslim Uyghurs. #BoycottMulan

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Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett

Photographs are Courtesy:  Walt Disney

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