Disney's 'Mulan' sparks backlash over Xinjiang, Hong Kong

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Walt Disney Co's release of 'Mulan' has provoked a backlash on social media for being partly filmed in the Xinjiang region and over its star's support of Hong Kong police.

Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong and internet users in Taiwan and Thailand are among those who promoted hashtags "#BoycottMulan" and "#BanMulan" on Twitter, following this month's launch of the film on Disney's streaming platform.

It will also be shown in cinemas in China - an increasingly important market for Hollywood studios - from September 11.

Criticism of the live-action remake of a 1998 animated version began last year when Mulan's star, mainland Chinese-born actress Liu Yifei, expressed support on social media for police in Hong Kong, which was roiled at the time by anti-government unrest.

Calls for people to boycott the film gathered pace this week over its links to the western region of Xinjiang, where China's clampdown on ethnic Uighurs has been criticised by some governments, including the United States, and human rights groups.

Several state organisations in Xinjiang appeared in the film's credits, according to social media posts.

Asked about the reaction to the film's Xinjiang shooting, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian restated Beijing's denial of the existence of re-education camps in the region, calling facilities there vocational and educational institutions and accusing anti-China forces of smearing its Xinjiang policy.

The movie, reported to have cost $200 million to produce, had been scheduled to reach theatres in March, but its release was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last month, Disney said Mulan would skip most theatres and go directly to its Disney+ platform.

However, it is set to premiere in Chinese cinemas from Friday, and the studio hopes it will do better than the animated version more than 20 years ago.

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