In the credits of Disney’s new Mulan movie, the company offers a special thanks to four Chinese Communist Party propaganda departments and a public security bureau in the region of Xinjiang where more than a million Muslims, mostly of the Uyghur minority, have been imprisoned in concentration camps.
Disney recently revealed that some scenes in the live action remake of its 1998 animated film, which was released on its Disney+ streaming platform over the weekend, were filmed in the region.
The company thanks the entities, which were directly involved in the operation or promotion of mass internment camps, including the CCP’s propaganda commission in Xinjiang and a local branch of the regional Xinjiang public security bureau. The former has peddled disinformation to justify the detention camps while the latter is subject to U.S. government sanctions for its role in operating the camps.
While the Party has barred foreign journalists, human rights organizations, and foreign government officials from entering the region, Disney employees were granted special access. Aside from filming in the region, the production team spent months in the area “to do legwork research before the cameras rolled,” according to an interview with Architectural Digest.
The film refers to Xinjiang in subtitles as “northwest China,” in a reflection of Chinese government propaganda that Xinjiang has “belonged to China since ancient times.” The region’s inhabitants have cultural ties to the steppe peoples of Mongolia and have long claimed independence from China. The movie has no Uyghur characters.
Countless Uyghurs have died in the concentration camps while forced sterilization campaigns caused the birth rate in the region to drop roughly 24 percent last year, which fits within the legally recognized definition of genocide
Disney has long sought to appease the Chinese Communist Party to gain access to the market there, as evidenced by the successful opening of Shanghai Disneyland in June 2016, which Disney’s Executive Chairman Bob Iger said, is the “greatest opportunity the company has had since Walt Disney himself bought land in Central Florida.”
On Twitter, users have used the hashtag #boycottMulan to urge viewers to avoid the film, both for its involvement in the region and for star Liu Yifei’s support of police in Hong Kong last year at a time when people in Hong Kong were protesting newly suggested policies that would allow citizens to be extradited to mainland China.
Disney has leveraged its economic might to protest against laws that its executives view as unjust as recently as last year, when Iger threatened to discontinue all production in the state of Georgia if a restrictive abortion law that had recently been signed by governor Brian Kemp took effect.
“I rather doubt we will,” Iger said when asked if Disney would continue to film in Georgia if the law, which banned abortion after a fetal heartbeat could be detected, took effect. “I think many people who work for us will not want to work there, and we will have to heed their wishes in that regard. Right now we are watching it very carefully.”
The fetal heartbeat law was struck down by a federal court judge in July.