The release of Disney’s live-action remake of the 1998 animated film Mulan was intended to garner mass appeal from audiences in China. Instead, the film sparked backlash on social media because of its being filmed partially in the Xinjiang region and because of the lead actress’s support of Hong Kong police.
Online activists such as Hong Kong democracy advocate Joshua Wong trended hashtags like “#BoycottMulan” and “#BanMulan” on Twitter after the movie’s release on Disney Plus and upcoming release in Chinese cinemas.
The controversy surrounding Mulan first began when the star of the movie, Chinese-American actress Liu Yifei, expressed support for police in Hong Kong during anti-government, pro-democracy protests.
The movement to boycott the movie picked up speed over the past week over the movie’s ties to state organizations in China’s Xinjiang region, where China has built camps to repress the ethnic Uyghur Muslim population. China’s actions in the region led to criticism fro many governments, including the United States, and several human rights groups.
On Monday, the World Uyghur Congress called out the issue, tweeting, “In the new #Mulan, @Disney thanks the public security bureau in Turpan, which has been involved in the internment camps in East Turkistan.”
Meanwhile, foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian echoed Beijing’s denial of the existence of re-education camps for Uyghurs in Xinjiang, calling the accusations a smear tactic from anti-Chinese forces.
Joshua Wong and other activists urge people to boycott the movie, accusing Disney of “kowtowing” to China.