China imposes Mulan press restrictions on American ‘hooliganism’
The release of Disney’s Mulan has taken another hit as Chinese authorities have clamped down on press coverage of the theatrical release after the film was criticized for being made partially in Xinjiang, China. Xinjiang is the territory where the communist government has built concentration camps for its ethnic minority Uyghur population and has been accused of operating slave labor camps.
“Three sources told the Reuters news agency that mainland media outlets had received a notice asking them not to cover the film,” says Reuters. “Two of whom said it was sent by the Cyberspace Administration of China, while a fourth source at a major Chinese newspaper told Reuters that he received a text message with a similar order from a senior colleague.”
The film’s release once again highlights the difficulty in making a quick buck in China for those who in the West who are banking on the country’s large population of 1.7 billion people to act as an ATM.
The population, while large, is highly controlled, and winners and losers in commerce and in media are picked by a relatively small number of high-ranking communist bureaucrats, not by the usual market forces that western companies are used to.
And so far, even by market standards, Mulan has been in trouble outside of China.
The release was set for March but was delayed by the outbreak of the virus in Wuhan. It’s currently being released in Asian markets, other than China, such as Singapore and Thailand, but the film is not enjoying blockbuster sales.
“As of 8 pm Thursday, pre-bookings for the film’s opening day amount to $1.70 million according to ticket sales agency Maoyan. That would place it on top of the chart, but with a gross that is distinctly soft,” says Variety.
One U.S. senator has chastised Disney CEO Bob Chapek for kowtowing to China by shooting the film partially in Xinjiang and then using the official credits in the movie to thank Chinese authorities, including state security officials who are oppressing the Uyghur minority.
“The Mulan closing credits tell the story. Nine minutes into the ten-minute credit roll, Disney gives ‘special thanks to the Turpan Public Security Bureau’—the very same bureau responsible for administering the concentration camps in the Turpan jurisdiction,” wrote U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) to Chapek.
“Disney also chose to give ‘special thanks’ to several CCP propaganda organs, including the Xinjiang Communist Party’s publicity department. These agencies are tasked with spreading disinformation about the atrocities in Xinjiang in order to shield Beijing from accountability,” Hawley added.
A year ago, the NBA learned a similar lesson that profits take a back seat to domestic political optics in China.
The NBA signed an agreement last year with Chinese telecom giant Tencent for $1.5 billion for the rights to stream NBA games in China but immediately ran into trouble when Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted out his support of Hong Kong against Chinese aggression.
The regime in Beijing immediately halted NBA telecasts and it looks like they may not resume anytime soon. A recent executive order by President Donald Trump banning Tencent’s popular WeChat app means that the NBA-Tencent deal may be over, say those close to the deal, even though it means Tencent will lose all of its $1.5 billion investment in the NBA telecasts.
Chinese state media organ, Global Times, said that the U.S. criticism of China is a “tragedy for American society.”
“US public opinion on China is a hodgepodge of traditional arrogance, hooliganism, the state of being ill-informed and outdated,’ says the Global Times. “It has lost its complexity, diversity and fluidity, and has become rude and stubborn.”
“This is a tragedy for the US, the most developed society in the West,” the outlet concluded.
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