‘Mulan’ faces boycott backlash amid China human rights abuses

The US$200 million production credits government agencies in Xinjiang where Muslim Uighurs are being persecuted

Disney is facing a boycott backlash for filming scenes of the epic movie Mulan in a Chinese province accused of human rights violations.

The US$200 million production credits the government agencies in Xinjiang, a region where more than one million Muslim Uighurs have been herded into camps.

Leaked documents and testimonies from survivors have revealed that inmates are locked up, indoctrinated and punished, the BBC has reported. The ruling Chinese Communist Party has dismissed these claims as “fake news.”

“China has responded to the UN [United Nations] rights office’s call for unfettered access to Xinjiang by doubling down on its denials and false narratives and pressuring states not to critique the human rights nightmare being imposed on the region’s Muslims,” John Fisher, the Geneva director at Human Rights Watch, said earlier this year.

“States at the Human Rights Council need to speak out collectively and insist on a full independent investigation,” he added.

Still, this is the latest row to break out over Mulan, which is based on a 2,000-year-old Chinese legend.

Muslim Uighurs have been herded into camps in the Chinese province of Xinjiang. Photo: File

Last year, the hashtag #BoycottMulan started trending on Twitter after Chinese-American actress Liu Yifei, who plays the lead in the film, shared a post supporting the police crackdown on protesters in Hong Kong.

She later softened her stance after the storm erupted in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter

“I think it’s obviously a very complicated situation and I’m not an expert. I just really hope this gets resolved soon,” Liu said in February.

‘Human rights’

So far, Disney has yet to comment about the furor engulfing Mulan, a remake of the 1998 animated story about a young girl who takes her father’s place in the imperial army.

But questions remain about “human rights due diligence,” according to Sophie Richardson, the China director of Human Rights Watch.

“For any company, critical to these kinds of engagements is having done some sort of human rights due diligence, which is what the United Nations guiding principles on business and human rights requires,” she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.