Photo Credit: Disney
On September 4th, 2020, Disney released its long-awaited live-action film, “Mulan,” to the Disney+ streaming service for the added price of $29.99. The movie came with some backlash after lead actress, Liu Yifei, made comments in support of the police in Hong Kong.
Although Hong Kong was originally under China’s control, the region became a colony of Great Britain in 1841. However, in 1997, Hong Kong was transferred back under China’s authority as a Special Administrative Region. This arrangement allowed Hong Kong to be “one country, two systems,” which would be valid until 2047. Under this arrangement, Hong Kong had its own judiciary and legal system, separate from Communist China. Some of the rights in Hong Kong include freedom of assembly and freedom of speech.
In April of 2019, China proposed an extradition bill, which would allow criminal suspects to be extradited from Hong Kong to mainland China. Protests erupted throughout Hong Kong in opposition of the bill, claiming citizens in Hong Kong could be exposed to unfair trials and violent treatment. This is largely due to the fact that China has little freedom for speech, press, and assembly, among other things, and this bill could allow China to extradite people who would not be considered criminals in Hong Kong otherwise.
“The proposed changes to the extradition laws will put anyone in Hong Kong doing work related to the mainland at risk,” said Human Rights Watch’s Sophie Richardson in a statement earlier this year.
“No one will be safe, including activists, human rights lawyers, journalists, and social workers.”
The bill was withdrawn in September of 2019. However, the protests continued, now demanding full democracy and justice for the actions of Hong Kong police. As protests grew increasingly violent, the police began using rubber bullets, tear gas, and sponge grenades to subdue and arrest protestors. This has led to cries of police brutality throughout the nation.
How this relates to Mulan
Many Chinese actors and entertainers have voiced their support of China’s actions, including Chinese-born US citizen, Liu Yifei.
In August 2019, Yifei shared a post to the Chinese social media site, Weibo, saying, translated from Chinese, “I support the Hong Kong police. You can all attack me now. What a shame for Hong Kong.”
This erupted a series of calls to boycott “Mulan” and #BoycottMulan started trending on Twitter. One famous tweet, made by Thai student activist, Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, said, “I invite everyone to #boycottMulan #banMulan to make Disney and the Chinese government know that state violence against the people is unacceptable.”
Another major controversy associated with “Mulan” is the fact that, while the movie was filmed mostly in New Zealand, some of it was shot in China with government permission. The end credits of the movie gave “special thanks” to several government organizations in Xinjiang, including the public security bureau in Turpan and the “Publicity Department of CPC Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomy Region Committee.”
The bureau primarily runs China’s “re-education” camps, whose purpose is to indoctrinate and punish potential terrorists, aiming mostly at the Uighur Muslims. More than one million Muslims are already in these camps which have been linked to forced sterilization, starvation, and beating of its inmates.
Mulan has made $57 million worldwide, with $23 million of that being from China’s opening weekend. While the movie isn’t expected to do well in many countries, Disney is hopeful that it becomes a hit in China.