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What's the deal with the Mulan controversy?

The poster of Disney's first Mulan in 1998 next to the poster of the 2020 live action Mulan.

Mulan, the movie viewers grew up loving, has generated some pretty big controversy, a part of which involves serious human rights violations. 

The star of the film, Lui Yifei, drew attention after she announced her support of the actions of the Hong Kong police against pro-Democracy protestors, The protests began in June 2019 over plans - later put on ice, and finally withdrawn in September - that would have allowed extradition from Hong Kong to mainland China. 

Yifei’s comments sparked the hashtag #BoycottMulan—a rallying cry that was once again highlighted after eagle-eyed viewers noticed that Disney had thanked eight government bodies in Xinjiang. This leads to an even bigger controversy. Since when does Disney work with tyrannical governments involved in ethnic cleansings? 

The film had been shot in the Xinjiang region, where the Chinese government is holding an estimated 1-2 million Uighur Muslim minorities in detention camps. Former detainees report that they suffer from torture, rape, sterilization, forced abortions, forced indoctrination of the Chinese communist ideals, and many other abuses at the estimated 85+ camps (as of 2017)  there. 

Disney has acknowledged the stacked controversies, but has not given a proper response. They’ve created more questions than answers.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) stated that the purpose of these “re-education camps”  is to counter extremism and terrorism and to promote sinicization (the forced adaptation of Chinese cultural values). 

In the so-called re-education camps the Ughurs are forced to renounce their cultural and religious identities. The detentions are part of China’s efforts to influence the politics of a population Beijing sees as prone to committing acts of violence. 

Social Studies teacher Mr. Ramon Quinones said, “When reeducation takes place, it acts like mandatory assimilation...It seems that China has tried reeducation and like so many other groups, the intended target rejects such reeducation in an attempt to maintain their identity.”

The policing of Uighurs continues outside of the camps and especially during the holy month of Ramadan, as Muslim practices including fasting and visiting mosques are restricted. Any group of people with most elementary moral training  would recognize the severity of the problem. 

But Disney looks the other way. They can’t have their reputation as an innocent studio that produces children’s films being tarnished. Because of this Disney serves as a defacto puppet to the CCP, portraying this rosy-filtered version of China that suits the communists’ agenda.

 Sophomore Amaan Kashif said, “The movie is supporting the corrupt communist government that is putting Uighur Muslims through a genocide.” 

The horrors the Chinese government is inflicting on the minority Uighurs are only the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Many say the actions of the government closely resemble what the Nazis did to minority Jews less than 80 years ago, starting from acts of bias to a sense of a false threat, ultimately leading to millions of Jews being sentenced to death camps.

 Mr. Ramon Quinones further said, “There seems to be a common tale of genocide. We have a group (China) that has expanded into another area which forces the victim of that expansion to either change or maintain their traditional way of life. Usually, some will act violently which is why you see ‘terror attacks’ by Uighurs. The more these attacks take place, the more likely the terror target (China) will crack down.” 

The original Mulan movie was such a success because the intentions were clear, namely, to be a children's film. 

The new live-action version seems to have been made to support the CCP’s agenda and to profit from the box offices in China. The film has become a symbol of Hollywood’s ongoing pandering to the CCP for funding and box office revenue despite the government’s horrendous human rights abuses as put by The Guardian.

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Raheem Ahmad
Raheem Ahmad
Oct 25, 2020

Adam Khan, your article provided ample information regarding the Mulan controversy and the horrors the Uiyghur Muslims are going through. People should be doing their best to help the Uiyghur Muslims, as we would do the same if we were in their situation. Good job!

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