Have you watched the new Disney live action remake of Mulan yet? Originally set to premier on March 27, the movie was recently released on September 4th, 2020. Amid the excitement of many fans, however, there has also been a controversy surrounding the film. It has been brought to attention that Liu Yifei, who stars as Mulan, was a supporter of the Hong Kong police last year during the protests.
In April of 2019, legislation was introduced in Hong Kong that would have allowed Hongkongese citizens to be extradited to China if they committed certain crimes with a minimum sentence of seven years, such as murder. Many citizens strongly opposed the bill and argued that it would cause unfair trials and violent treatment due to the Chinese government. Another downside that was pointed out by citizens was that this legislation would give China more power over Hong Kong, which they could then use to target the media and Hong Kong’s autonomy. In order to prevent its passing, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets and began protesting. After several weeks of continuous protest, the bill was eventually suspended indefinitely, but it came with a price.
During the protests, both police and protesters became violent. An eighteen year old was shot in the chest by the police as protestors fought officers with weapons. A pro-Beijing, or pro-government, lawmaker was stabbed by a man pretending to be a supporter of the bill. A policeman shot a protester while activists were setting up roadblocks. Later that same day, a man was set on fire by anti-government protesters. These were just a few examples of the violence that occurred, and it is also theorized that citizens began to disappear and were sent to China for mass incarceration.
In the midst of the situation, Liu Yifei took to social media platform Weibo and stated in Chinese, “I support Hong Kong’s police, you can beat me up now.” Later, she said in English, “What a shame for Hong Kong.” Earlier this year during an interview by the Hollywood Reporter, Liu addressed the situation and said, “It’s obviously a very complicated situation, and I’m not an expert. I just really hope this gets resolved soon… I think it’s just a very sensitive situation.”
Another component of the controversy surrounding the film is that Disney has a long ongoing relationship with China, where its films find much success in its theaters and where Shanghai Disney theme park is located. Because China’s population is around 1.3 billion and Hong Kong’s is under 10 million, Mulan had a higher box office potential in China. This may have led Disney to ignore the political dispute.
It is reported that part of the movie was filmed in Xinjiang, the same province where Uighur muslims are being detained at “reeducation camps” because of their faith. The Chinese government has labeled the Islamic religion as “a contagious ‘ideological illness”, leading them to imprison at least one million Uighurs in camps where they are beaten, tortured, and sexually abused. Disney even credited eight Xinjiang government entities, including the publicity department of CPC Xinjiang Uighur Autonomy Region Committee, as a “special thanks” in the end of the film.
Based on these facts, should people still watch the movie? The main actress supports police brutality, and the film took place in the same location where millions of Muslims are being persecuted. By supporting the movie, viewers are supporting those crimes as well. The choice is up to the viewer to make, but the conditions cannot simply be ignored.