This month you can stream Mulan, a classic Disney movie remade in live action. But by paying the $30 fee, you will also be putting money into the hands of a corporation that wants to appeal to a Chinese audience while sidestepping the prevalent abuse of human rights in China. The Chinese government has been guilty of a number of human rights violations, including moving Uighurs, the Muslim ethnic minority in Xianjiang, into internment camps and attempting to destroy the Muslim population in the regionーthe very place where much of the film was shot. The Muslim population living in the region are under constant surveillance, having to fight against the suppression of their language and culture, while also trying to avoid being sent to internment camps. The Disney corporation has put a price on silence and compliance with one of the most horrific cases of human rights abuse seen in recent years.
As one of the largest and most respected producers of media, in their systemic oppression and attempted eradication of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang; however, they have chosen to remain silent, even after filming in Xinjiang. Moreover, the closing credits of the film show Disney thanking a number of Xinjiang government officials. Simply by thanking government officials, which is customary when filming in any region, Disney is giving the oppressive regime in China credibility and legitimacy.
Adding to the controversy around the movie, the film’s lead actress, Liu Yifei, has come out in support of Hong Kong police who have been deployed to curb the pro-democracy protests in the region. For many years, Hong Kong has been autonomous, and has stayed clear of most of the brutality from the Chinese government. In the past year, however, China has seized power in Hong Kong through a new national security law which chips away at the autonomy of Hong Kong and punishes protestors who demonstrate against the Chinese regime. It is hard to imagine why Disney would make such a controversial choice for a lead actress, who in the film portrays a character fighting for her people. However, Yifei is one of the most popular actresses in China. Disney saw an opportunity to reach a bigger audience with her performance, and once again chose money over morality.
Awareness of the human rights violations and use of internment camps in Xinjiang is steadily fading among the international community and our society as a whole. We don’t want to allow another genocide to take place while the world stands by and does nothing. Disney has failed in their duty as a major company to denounce the actions of the oppressive Chinese regime, and has failed the Uighur Muslims in China by remaining silent. Disney, which side of history do you want to be on?