Tag: Mulan

Disney executive defends Mulan filming in China despite government’s human rights abuses

Disney’s president of film production, Sean Bailey, addressed the recent controversy over the studio’s live-action Mulan remake in a letter to a British politician this week. In the letter, which member of parliament Iain Duncan Smith posted online Thursday, Bailey defended the choice to film portions of Mulan in an area of China that has been the site of extensive human rights abuses.



a group of people walking down a dirt road: Jasin Boland/Disney


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Jasin Boland/Disney

After Mulan debuted on Disney+ last month, controversy arose when viewers noticed the end credits included “special thanks” to several government entities in Xinjiang, a region in northwest China. The region has been the site of what experts have called a “cultural genocide,” with the Chinese government detaining and torturing Uighur Muslims in mass “re-education” camps.

Some of the entities thanked in Mulan‘s credits have been directly linked to this campaign, including the Turpan Bureau of Public Security, which was sanctioned by the U.S. Commerce Department last year. The news raised questions from U.S. lawmakers and other observers about the degree to which Disney cooperated with the Chinese government. Duncan Smith, a prominent politician of the British Conservative Party and co-chair of the U.K.’s Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, sent a letter to Bailey inquiring about the film.

In his reply, dated Oct. 7, Bailey noted that the footage filmed in China, which consisted entirely of landscape shots, “comprises 78 seconds” of the 115-minute film, and was shot “over a brief four-day period — compared to 143 days of filming in New Zealand.”

“Although Mulan was filmed almost entirely in New Zealand, in order to accurately depict the unique geography and landscape of China for this period drama, the producers chose to film some scenery in 20 locations throughout the country, including the Kumtag Desert in Xinjiang Province, home to an important passageway along the historic Silk Road,” Bailey wrote. “The decision to film in each of these locations was made by the film’s producers in the interest of authenticity, and was in no way dictated or influenced by state or local Chinese officials.”



a group of people in costumes: In a letter, a Disney executive defended the decision to film portions of 'Mulan' in China despite the government's reported human rights violations.


© Jasin Boland/Disney
In a letter, a Disney executive defended the decision to film portions of ‘Mulan’ in China despite the government’s reported human rights violations.

He added that the studio was required to cooperate with the government in order to film in China, writing, “There are regulations that must be followed by all foreign film production companies wanting to operate in China. These companies are not allowed to operate independently and must partner with a Chinese production company which is responsible for securing all film permits.” The thanks in the credits were simply standard industry practice, he continued, saying the production company provided a list of entities to thank for granting permission

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Disney Defends ‘Mulan’ Credits That Thanked Chinese Government Entities Involved in Human Rights Abuses

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Disney’s president of film production Sean Bailey defended the controversial credits for the new live-action “Mulan” film, which thanked Chinese government entities directly involved in perpetuating human rights abuses in Xinjiang, as being part of “standard practice across the film industry worldwide,” according to a letter addressed to and posted online by prominent British politician Iain Duncan Smith.

The choice to film in the region was made for reasons of “authenticity,” Bailey explained.

Disney made global headlines when “Mulan,” released to streaming on its Disney+ platform Sept. 4, gave “special thanks” during the film’s end credits to eight different Chinese government departments in Xinjiang, a number of which are directly involved in the campaign that critics have deemed a cultural genocide. They include the Turpan Bureau of Public Security, which was last October sanctioned by the U.S. Commerce Department for engaging in “human rights violations and abuses in implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups.”

In the letter dated to Oct. 7 on official Disney letterhead, Bailey wrote, in Disney’s defense: “It is standard practice across the film industry worldwide to acknowledge in a film’s credits the cooperation, approvals, and assistance provided by various entities and individuals over the course of a film’s production. In this case, the production company Beijing Shadow Times provided our production team with the list of acknowledgements to be included in the credits for ‘Mulan.’”

To bolster his point, he included “examples of credits from other films shot in international locations” in further pages that were not posted online, concluding: “I hope this clarification puts this issue in the proper perspective.”

The remarks rank among the very few that have emerged from any Disney executive since the “Mulan” release. Disney’s CFO Christine McCarthy echoed Bailey’s explanation at an unrelated conference in early September, saying that filming in China requires government approvals and “it’s common to acknowledge in a film’s credits the national and local governments that allowed you to film there.”

Disney has not issued a formal statement or apology on the matter, and has told creatives involved in “Mulan” to steer clear of the subject.

In the Thursday tweet in which he publicized the letter, Conservative member of parliament Duncan Smith called Bailey’s reply “very weak and full of platitudes.”

“The reality is that Disney simply does not want to offend China, and have given in to China’s demands and will not stand up to them,” he wrote. “Disney’s corporate policy does not appear to care about the human rights issues affecting the #Uighurs. It seems human rights come second to the corporate policy of not upsetting China.”

In June,

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Disney Defends Controversial ‘Mulan’ Credits As ‘Standard Practice’

Disney’s president of film production Sean Bailey defended the controversial credits for the new live-action “Mulan” film, which thanked Chinese government entities directly involved in perpetuating human rights abuses in Xinjiang, as being part of “standard practice across the film industry worldwide,” according to a letter addressed to and posted online by prominent British politician Iain Duncan Smith.

The choice to film in the region was made for reasons of “authenticity,” Bailey explained.

Disney made global headlines when “Mulan,” released to streaming on its Disney+ platform Sept. 4, gave “special thanks” during the film’s end credits to eight different Chinese government departments in Xinjiang, a number of which are directly involved in the campaign that critics have deemed a cultural genocide. They include the Turpan Bureau of Public Security, which was last October sanctioned by the U.S. Commerce Department for engaging in “human rights violations and abuses in implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups.”

In the letter dated to Oct. 7 on official Disney letterhead, Bailey wrote, in Disney’s defense: “It is standard practice across the film industry worldwide to acknowledge in a film’s credits the cooperation, approvals, and assistance provided by various entities and individuals over the course of a film’s production. In this case, the production company Beijing Shadow Times provided our production team with the list of acknowledgements to be included in the credits for ‘Mulan.’”

To bolster his point, he included “examples of credits from other films shot in international locations” in further pages that were not posted online, concluding: “I hope this clarification puts this issue in the proper perspective.”

The remarks rank among the very few that have emerged from any Disney executive since the “Mulan” release. Disney’s CFO Christine McCarthy echoed Bailey’s explanation at an unrelated conference in early September, saying that filming in China requires government approvals and “it’s common to acknowledge in a film’s credits the national and local governments that allowed you to film there.”

Disney has not issued a formal statement or apology on the matter, and has told creatives involved in “Mulan” to steer clear of the subject.

In the Thursday tweet in which he publicized the letter, Conservative member of parliament Duncan Smith called Bailey’s reply “very weak and full of platitudes.”

“The reality is that Disney simply does not want to offend China, and have given in to China’s demands and will not stand up to them,” he wrote. “Disney’s corporate policy does not appear to care about the human rights issues affecting the #Uighurs. It seems human rights come second to the corporate policy of not upsetting China.”

In June, Duncan Smith and Labour peer Helena Kennedy

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