The recent release of Disney’s live-action adaptation of the beloved animated film ‘**Mulan’ has sparked widespread controversy across the globe. Rather than the usual hype surrounding the release of another Disney film, social media has instead erupted with criticism and hashtags of #BoycottMulan.
Why is ‘Mulan’ receiving backlash?
This backlash comes from an alliance of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, Thailand and Taiwan after the movie’s star, Liu Yifei, spoke in support of the Hong Kong police, who have been criticized for their use of force and brutality against pro-democracy protesters. Last year, in the wake of widespread student led demonstrations in Hong Kong, the 33-year-old actress shared the words of Fu Guohao, a reporter from the Chinese Communist Party-run media outlet, who was assaulted by a group of pro-democracy protesters and deemed a hero on social media.
Her post read: “I support the Hong Kong police. You can beat me up now.” She added, “What a shame for Hong Kong.”
When asked to address her comments, Yifei stated “it’s obviously a very complicated situation, and I’m not an expert,” and adding “I just really hope this gets resolved soon ... I think it’s just a very sensitive situation.”
While she receives major criticism from some supporters, many Chinese pro-communism supporters have begun a #SupportMulan campaign.
What is happening in China?
This backlash comes when protesters in Hong Kong were protesting newly suggested policies that would allow citizens to be extradited to mainland China first introduced in April. These policies could potentially undermine judicial independence, endanger dissidents and risk exposing Hongkongers to violent and unfair treatment. Moreover, these policies could give China greater control of Hong Kong (under the “one country, two systems” arrangement, Hong Kong is part of China, yet has some autonomy)
After hundreds and thousands of people took to the streets and weeks of protests ensued, the bill was suspended. Yet, the clash between the Chinese police and protesters had grown more violent and frequent and by the time the bill was withdrawn it was too little, too late. Demonstrations continue and now demand full democracy and an inquiry into police actions.
Mulan was filmed in Xinjiang, a hub for Muslim genocide:
Another reason Mulan has become a rod of criticism is that in the film credits, Disney thanked eight government entities in Xinjiang, a region in China home to the Uighurs.
For the past few years, the communist Chinese government has been targeting the predominately Muslim Ughir population and they have lived in surveillance and repression. The Chinese government has labeled “Islam a contagious ‘ideological illness',” leading the government to quarantine more than one million Uighurs in "reeducation camps", New York Magazine reported in 2018. Human rights advocates have called the situation in Xinjiang the worst collective human rights abuse in China in decades.
“This 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,” said Tahir Imin, a Uighur activist based in Washington. “Every big company in America needs to think about whether their business is helping the Chinese government oppress the Uighur people.”
Disney has spent $200 million on the making of Mulan, and it is scheduled to hit the big screen in Asian markets on Friday, including Pakistan. Will you choose to #BoycottMulan, or support the film?