Disney’s blockbuster “Mulan” is the subject of numerous boycott calls around the world when it is released on streaming platforms. In the credits, thanks to the Chinese authorities, accused of repressing the Uyghurs, go wrong.
The magic of Disney struggles to operate in the land of the Uyghurs. Disney’s film “Mulan”, which has just been released on the Disney + platform, is the subject of boycott calls aimed in particular at the filming of certain scenes in the Chinese region of Xinjiang, where Beijing accused of violating Uyghur rights.
The $ 200 million blockbuster, based on the legend of a Chinese warrior, was already the subject of controversy last year. Chinese-American actress Liu Yifei, who plays the title role, then expressed support for the Hong Kong police, accused by the pro-democracy camp of suppressing protests.
>> To see: Uyghurs, by force of the camps
But recently, a new controversy has emerged. Last week, when it was broadcast on the Disney + streaming platform, viewers noticed that, in the credits, Disney addressed “special thanks” to government authorities in the Xinjiang region, located in northwest China. .
Among the latter is the public security office in Turpan, a city in eastern Xinjiang in which several Uyghur political re-education camps, according to associations for the defense of human rights.
The department in charge of the Chinese Communist Party in this region is also thanked.
Even before this new controversy, Taiwanese, Hong Kong and Thai activists launched a movement on social networks with the hashtag #BoycottMulan.
Dubbed the “Milk Tea Alliance”, it is the result of a gathering of activists who denounce Beijing’s authoritarianism.
This movement highlighted in particular the resemblance between actor Tzi Ma, who plays the role of Mulan’s father, with Chinese President Xi Jinping and called activist Agnes Chow “real Mulan” after her arrest in August.
Since the film was broadcast on Disney +, the phenomenon has grown, particularly in the United States and Europe.
On Twitter, Joshua Wong, who for international opinion embodies the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement, called on “people everywhere who love freedoms” to boycott “Mulan”.
For its part, Amnesty International points out that this blockbuster was shot in a region of China where Uyghurs are interned in camps.
Rights groups, journalists and academics have denounced the internment of members of the Uyghur Muslim minority, as well as mass detentions and forced sterilizations.
Disney thanks the propaganda
For Isaac Stone Fish, of the Asia Society, a center specializing in US-China relations, this film is “arguably Disney’s most problematic film” since “Melody from the South.”
When it was released in 1946, the latter had aroused many criticisms which accused it of disseminating racist clichés and of painting in an idyllic light the slave plantations of the old South of the United States.
“Disney thanked four propaganda departments and a public security bureau in Xinjiang (…) which is the site of one of the worst human rights violations in the world today,” he said. he writes in the Washington Post.
Badiucao, a dissident Chinese artist who lives in Melbourne, made a drawing that represents Mulan as a guard at one of Xinjiang’s internment camps.
“This poses a real problem and there is no excuse,” he told AFP, stressing the existence of “evidence attesting to what is happening in Xinjiang”.
Baduicao accuses Disney of “double standards,” by joining movements against social injustice in the West, such as #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, while turning a blind eye to how China is violating rights.
This new version of “Mulan”, released in cartoon in 1998, has known other disappointments. Its release on the big screen, scheduled for spring, has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Disney has therefore decided to broadcast it exclusively from September 4 on its video on demand platform. It is due out in theaters around China this week, where Disney + is not available.
In August, Hollywood was accused in a report published by the Pen America organization of censoring itself to allow its films to reach the massive Chinese market.
Screenwriters, producers and directors practice alterations of all kinds, in the hope of reaching the 1.4 billion consumers in China, according to Pen America, an American association for the defense of freedom of expression. Asked by AFP, Disney has not yet responded to a request for comment.