Disney’s Mulan cannot catch a break in her native country. Activists have called to boycott the film for months after star Liu Yifei’s pro-police social media posts amid the Hong Kong protests. And now Mulan has landed in even hotter water; it apparently filmed in a Chinese province accused of rampant human rights violations, including the internment of an estimated 1 million Muslim residents.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Mulan’s credits include a thank-you to the public security bureau in the city of Turpan—where China has been accused for years of running detention camps largely populated by Uighurs, a Muslim ethnic minority. THR estimates that the “re-education camps” hold 1 million detainees. The effort is one branch of the country’s broad, aggressive push to assimilate ethnic minorities, the The New York Times reports.
The credits also thank the “publicity department of CPC Xinjiang Uighur Autonomy Region Committee”—which THR notes produces and manages government propaganda for the region.
The language used in the credits also appears to be carefully chosen. Washington Post contributing columnist Isaac Stone Fish notes that Disney’s thank-yous to “publicity departments” actually mistranslate what should be “propaganda departments.” And as novelist Jeannette Ng points out, the credits decline to name-check Xinjiang directly, instead referring to the area as “Northwest China.” Earlier this month production designer Grant Major told Architectural Digest that he and his team spent months in Xinjiang for research.
A representative for Disney did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.
The live-action Mulan has faced boycott calls since last year. During the summer Liu Yifei, who plays the folklore-inspired hero, voiced her support for Chinese authorities during Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests, despite outcry against police brutality amid the demonstrations. “I support Hong Kong police,” the actress wrote on the Chinese Twitter equivalent Weibo. “You can beat me now. What a shame for Hong Kong.”
As the Times notes, calls for a Mulan boycott have emerged not only from Chinese activists, but also their supporters in Thailand and Taiwan—a coalition dubbed the #milkteaalliance. The activists have dubbed recently arrested pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow the “real” Mulan, the Times reports.
This is not the first time Mulan has languished in China. Disney’s original animated feature was famously delayed for a year thanks to the studio backing Martin Scorsese’s Kundun—a biographical feature about the Dalai Lama that China saw as too sympathetic to the Tibetan spiritual leader.
The animated Mulan did not debut in China until a year after its domestic release—and just happened to premiere as children returned to school in February following Chinese New Year. Most youths in the country had already seen pirated versions of the film according to the Baltimore Sun at the time, and its central character was dubbed too “American” anyway. Mulan ultimately grossed an anemic $30,000 in her home province, Hunan, by the time the film’s theatrical run closed.
The new Mulan opens in China this Friday—and despite activist outcry, the film appears to be faring decently in Thailand and Taiwan so far. Last week Deadline reported that as the film begins its soft rollout in areas where Disney+ is not available, the film scored No. 1 in Thailand and No. 2 in Taiwan.