09.11.20

Lankford Sends Letter to Disney CEO Following Cooperation with Elements in Xinjiang During Filming of Mulan

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK — US Senators James Lankford (R-OK) along with Marco Rubio (R-FL) today sent a bipartisan letter to The Walt Disney Company’s Chief Executive Officer Bob Chapek, inquiring about Disney’s cooperation with elements of the Chinese Communist Party’s  security and propaganda authorities in the production of the movie Mulan. For years, reports have surfaced highlighting China’s campaign against Uyghur and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region’s (XUAR), including recent revelations of infanticide, forced abortions and forced sterilizations.

In their letter, the legislators highlight that, “the decision to film parts of Mulan in the XUAR, in cooperation with local security and propaganda elements, offers tacit approval to these perpetrators of crimes that may warrant the designation of genocide.” 

Earlier this year, Lankford and Rubio were joined by 73 members of the Senate and the House in sending a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin urging them to issue a formal determination of the atrocity crimes, including crimes against humanity and genocide against Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim ethnic minorities.

Joining Lankford and Rubio in sending the letter were Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Rick Scott (R-FL), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Steve Daines (R-MT), Pat Toomey(R-PA), and Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), as well as Representatives James P. McGovern (D-MA), Christopher Smith (R-NJ), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), and Liz Cheney (R-WY). 

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Mr. Chapek:

We are writing to inquire about The Walt Disney Company’s cooperation with elements of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region’s (XUAR) security and propaganda authorities in the production of Mulan. Disney’s apparent cooperation with officials of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) who are most responsible for committing atrocities—or for covering up those crimes—is profoundly disturbing.

The closing credits of Mulan extend thanks to the “Turpan Municipal Bureau of Public Security” and the “Publicity Department of CPC Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Committee” as well as other local level XUAR propaganda elements. In October 2019, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security added the Turpan Municipal Bureau of Public Security to its Entity List for “human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups in the XUAR.” The XUAR Publicity (or Propaganda) Department—which is an arm of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)—has denied, distorted, and otherwise covered up these crimes against humanity that also include forced labor and a campaign of mass sterilization, forced abortions, and birth suppression against Uyghurs.

Publicly available information prior to the filming ofMulan showed the existence of mass internment camps for the detention of Uyghurs. By July 1, 2018, major news outlets in the United States, Australia, United Kingdom, and Hong Kong all had reported that Beijing had interned hundreds of thousands, if not more than one million, Uyghurs and minorities in the XUAR. The decision to film parts of Mulan in the XUAR, in cooperation with local security and propaganda elements, offers tacit approval to these perpetrators of crimes that may warrant the designation of genocide.

As such, we request the following information.

(1)  Please describe, in detail, The Walt Disney Company’s cooperation with the “Publicity Department of CPC Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Committee” and the “Turpan Municipal Bureau of Public Security” as well as any other cooperation involving official PRC and CCP entities in the XUAR during the filming of Mulan.

 

(2)  Please describe the contractual requirements made by or requests made of The Walt Disney Company related to the naming of the “Publicity Department of CPC Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Committee,” the “Turpan Municipal Bureau of Public Security”, and any other PRC or CCP entity in the Mulan credits.

 

(3)  Please describe the extent to which officers and senior executives of The Walt Disney Company were aware of reports contemporaneous with the filming of Mulan that the PRC and CCP were carrying out a campaign of mass surveillance and detention against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the XUAR. If they were not aware, how will The Walt Disney Company ensure their officers and executives are made aware of publicly reported mass surveillance and detentions in the future?

 

(4)  Please describe the extent to which film and production teams were aware of mass surveillance and detention of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the XUAR while they were researching and filming the location, which, according to production designer Grant Major, occurred for months even before filming began. Why did The Walt Disney Company decide not to use the unique access it had to XUAR to inform the public about what has been called the largest internment of an ethnic-religious minority since World War II?

 

(5)  Please describe the reasoning that led The Walt Disney Company to go ahead with the filming of Mulan in light of these widely available and credible reports of the PRC and CCP’s egregious human rights abuses in the XUAR, and whether filming within the PRC or the XUAR was related to ensuring access to the PRC market.

 

(6)  Please describe The Walt Disney Company’s use of local labor while filming in the XUAR, including any cooperation with the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps and use of Uyghur or other ethnic minority labor, as well as any due diligence performed to ensure that no forced labor was used during the film’s production in the XUAR.

 

(7)  Please identify The Walt Disney Company’s units and subsidiaries that performed the aforementioned due diligence and any company that they contracted to perform such due diligence.

 

(8)  Please describe the role of PRC-based officers and executives of The Walt Disney Company or its subsidiary, The Walt Disney Company (China) Limited, in the decision-making related to filming Mulan in the XUAR.

 

(9)  Please confirm whether The Walt Disney Company or its subsidiaries involved in the filming of Mulan were required by PRC or CCP authorities to establish a communist party committee or branch for its Chinese employees, and, if so, whether that committee or branch played a role in the company’s decision to film in Xinjiang.

 

(10)        Please describe any production plans The Walt Disney Company has in China, including identifying regions and the project(s) associated.

 

(11)        Does The Walt Disney Company have a policy about cooperating with entities that are known human rights abusers? If so, please share it. If not, please explain why not. 

The Walt Disney Company’s website states “We believe social responsibility is a long-term investment that serves to strengthen our operations and competitiveness in the marketplace, enhance risk management, attract and engage talented employees, and maintain our reputation.” We seek to fully understand how you implement this commitment in the activities you undertake in China.

We look forward to your prompt and detailed responses to these requests.

Sincerely,

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