Disney Defends ‘Mulan’ Credits That Thanked Chinese Government Entities Involved in Human Rights Abuses
Disney's President of Film Production, Sean Bailey, defended the controversial credits for the new live-action film "Mulan," which thanked Chinese government agencies directly involved in sustaining human rights abuses in Xinjiang as part of "standard practice across the film industry worldwide". ”According to a letter sent online to well-known British politician Iain Duncan Smith.
The decision to film in the area was made on the grounds of "authenticity," Bailey explained.
Disney made headlines around the world when Mulan, released on September 4th on its Disney + platform, featured eight different Chinese government departments in Xinjiang, some of which are directly involved in the critics' campaign, during the credits of the film special thanks ”uttered a cultural genocide. These include the Turpan Bureau of Public Security, declared last October by the US Department of Commerce for “human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of the Chinese campaign for suppression, arbitrary mass detention and high-tech surveillance against Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other members of Muslim minorities. "
In the October 7th letter on Disney's official letterhead, Bailey wrote in Disney's defense: “It is common throughout the film industry worldwide to recognize the collaboration, approval, and support of various companies and individuals in the course of the production of a film. In this case, the Beijing Shadow Times production company provided our production team with the list of confirmations to be included in the credits for "Mulan". "
To support his point, he added “Examples of credits from other films shot in international locations” on additional pages that were not posted online, and concluded, “I hope this clarification puts this issue in perspective . "
The remarks are among the few that have emerged from a Disney executive since "Mulan" was released. Christine McCarthy, Disney CFO, echoed Bailey's statement at an unrelated conference in early September, saying that filming in China requires government approval and "it is customary for national and local governments to allow them to go." film to be recognized in the credits of a film. "
Disney has not made a formal statement or apology on the matter and has advised the creatives involved in "Mulan" to stay away from the topic.
In the Thursday tweet in which he published the letter, Conservative MP Duncan Smith called Bailey's response "very weak and full of platitudes".
"The reality is that Disney just doesn't want to offend China and has given in and won't stand up to China's demands," he wrote. "Disney's corporate policy does not seem to care about the human rights issues affecting the #Uighurs. It appears that human rights are second only to corporate policy of not angry with China."
In June, Duncan Smith and Labor colleague Helena Kennedy founded the United Kingdom's Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, which they now jointly lead. According to a founding declaration, the body would like to "promote a coordinated response between democratic states to the challenges arising from the current behavior and future ambitions of the People's Republic of China".
The co-chairs had jointly written a letter to Bailey about "Mulan", which Tony Chambers, senior vice president of studio sales and country manager for Great Britain and Ireland at Disney, forwarded to the American executive director.
In his response, Bailey went further into production details and the studio's strategic thinking.
The film "was designed to demonstrate the richness of Chinese culture and storytelling," he wrote.
“Although 'Mulan' was shot almost entirely in New Zealand to accurately portray the unique geography and landscape of China for this drama, the producers decided to shoot some landscapes in 20 locations across the country, including the Kumtag Desert in Xinjiang Province, Home to an important passageway along the historic Silk Road, ”he said.
"The decision to film in each of these locations was made by the movie's producers in the interests of authenticity and was not dictated or influenced in any way by state or local Chinese officials."
There, desert scene shots took place in just four days, a fraction of the 143 days of shooting in New Zealand, and the resulting footage appears in just 78 seconds of the film's 115-minute runtime, he emphasized.
Disney hired the private Chinese production company Beijing Shadow Times to support the filming process on the Chinese side. This company began applying for permits from state and local authorities in 2017. "During this period, neither the UK nor the US government had issued corporate risk advice or made relevant policy decisions for the region," Bailey wrote.
But even without political decisions or a willingness to take risks, the campaign against Uyghurs during this period would have been hard to ignore, if only because of the extreme surveillance that travelers would have been exposed to and the visible increase in systems of checkpoints and security checks.
The earliest evidence of re-education work in Turpan, the city home to five of the government agencies that Disney thanked, dates back to 2013. "Mulan" was lit green in 2015. The first reports about the camps began in the summer of 2017. Niki Caro was in Xinjiang in September 2017 and posted a photo of sand dunes there on Instagram. The production's set designer said they had spent "months" in the area.
While filming in 2018, China was at the height of its campaign against the ethnic minority in Xinjiang. Analysts use satellite imagery to estimate that the other Disney county, Xinjiang, has at least 10 detention centers and five prisons.
Bailey described Disney's decisions as the US studio simply sticking to the more general rules of doing business in China.
"Global businesses have a strong presence in China - hundreds of global companies, including dozens of Fortune 500 companies, operate across the country, and all of them must comply with relevant laws and regulations," he wrote. "There are also regulations that must be followed by all foreign film production companies that want to operate in China."
Foreign manufacturing companies working in China must partner with a local company, submit their scripts for government approval, and apply for shooting permits. However, there is no law dictating the form that end credits must take.
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