Washington D.C., Sep 11, 2020 / 10:01 am
At least two U.S. Senators have joined the chorus of outrage against The Walt Disney Company after the company revealed it worked with Chinese propaganda departments in the Xinjiang autonomous region during the filming of Mulan.
“The ancient Chinese folktale of Hua Mulan is inspiring,” said Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) in a Sept. 9 letter sent to Bob Chapek, the CEO of The Walt Disney Company. “Disney’s partnership with a genocidal dictatorship is appalling.”
In the closing credits for Mulan, a live-action remake of the 1998 animated film of the same name, Disney gave a “special thanks” to, among other entities, the “Publicity Department of CPC Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Committee,” and the “Turpan Municipal Bureau of Public Security.” Parts of the movie were filmed in Xinjiang, which is located in northwestern China. The majority of the Uyghur population, a minority ethnic group that is mostly Muslim, resides in Xinjiang.
“The Publicity Department of the CPC Municipal Committee has pushed propaganda justifying the nature and purpose of the ‘re-education facilities,’” wrote Sasse, who noted that the Turpan Bureau of Public Safety is part of a larger entity that was recently sanctioned by the Department of the Treasury for its role in the operation of the detention camps in the region. The camps detain mostly Uyghur prisoners, who can be sent there for offenses such as “celebrating an Islamic holiday” and “wearing traditional religious clothing.”
The Chinese government claims the camps are for terrorism prevention purposes. Women who have been imprisoned in the camps have told stories of forced abortions and sterilizations.
Sasse stated that there needs to be a “deeper understanding of (Disney’s) production process” due to the company’s “willingness to partner with those committing genocide.” He requested additional information regarding when Disney was working in Xinjiang, as well as information regarding the agreements Disney made with the Chinese government when filming, and if the company raised concerns about human rights abuses in the region.
“Can Disney verify that the filming of Mulan did not benefit from Xinjiang-based forced labor,” asked Sasse, along with a request for information regarding any editorial requests made by the Chinese government.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), who was sanctioned by China earlier this year, wrote a similarly worded letter to Chapek on Wednesday, noting that China’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang were well-documented by the time Disney began production on Mulan in August 2018.
“Disney’s whitewashing of the ongoing Uighur genocide is contrary to all of your company’s supposed principles,” wrote Hawley.