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Mulan Faces Yet Another Controversy

Disney has found itself in hot water yet again after choosing to film in Xinjiang for Mulan, an autonomous region in northwest China and home to the Uighurs. The Uighurs are Muslim-majority people, consisting of over a million citizens being placed in re-education camps in China. China claims to have built these camps to address terrorism and reform their citizens, but many allegations of physical abuse and genocide have compared these reform centers to concentration camps. This problem is just one of many for the Walt Disney Company. Previously, Mulan’s main actress received backlash and a boycott from many previous fans of the movie and now the filmmakers are being accused of supporting China’s communist government by giving thanks to their representatives. 

In Aug. 2019, Mulan’s main actress, Liu Yifei, was publicly shamed for supporting Hong Kong’s police force. The police in Hong Kong are influenced by China’s pro-communist party that beat, arrest and kidnap pro-democracy protesters. Yifei was quoted in a blog post saying, “I also support Hong Kong police. You can beat me up now.” This quote by Yifei received major public backlash and was the main contributor to the #boycottmulan campaign. Many have criticized her stance of supporting the Hong Kong police but enjoying life as a free American citizen. Not only this, but she faced criticism for portraying Mulan, a character whose main purpose is to fight against oppression, but sides with it herself. This was just the start of the people’s problems with the film. 

Mulan debuted on Sep. 4 on Disney+, and in the credits, Disney publicly thanked many Chinese communist party members that live in Xinjiang. This leads viewers to believe that Disney supports the decision the Chinese government has made to forcefully relocate the Uighurs into re-education camps. Viewers have also tied Disney into supporting the Chinese government’s claim and propaganda that these camps do not even exist. Many sources are claiming that these camps are actively stripping the rights and religious freedoms of the Uighurs, but the official statement of the Chinese government explains, “Xinjiang has established vocational education and training centers in accordance with the law to prevent the breeding and spread of terrorism and religious extremism, effectively curbing the frequent terrorist incidents and protecting the rights to life, health, and development of the people of all ethnic groups. Worthwhile results have been achieved.”

China’s supposed main purpose for these re-education camps seems to be to combat regional terrorism and they provide a photo on their website of Uighurs putting together a flower arrangement. Despite what the Chinese government is telling their people, there have been many allegations that Uighurs are enduring abuse, widespread birth control and cultural genocide. Because of these allegations, the #boycottmulan trend persists and many previous fans of the movie refuse to watch it in protest of the Chinese government’s actions. The Walt Disney Company has yet to comment on the situation. 

If you are moved by this cause and want to support the Uighurs in their fight for freedom, here is a link to donate and become more informed on the subject. 

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Writer for HerCampus FSU. Senior majoring in English Literature and Theatre with a focus in stage management.
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