Based on the response to previous Disney live-action remakes, there was going to be a lot of trouble with Mulan, but what actually happened had nothing to do with the actual content. Instead, controversy arose when the ending credits rolled and the company openly thanked the Publicity Department of CPC Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Committee. If you are unfamiliar with this segment of the Chinese government, you would not be alone. They are responsible for the propaganda against the Uyghur Muslims, which has been used to force over 1 million into re-education camps. Those camps are where scenes from the movie were filmed.
In addition to the re-education, which the Chinese Communist Party claims is part of battling religious fundamentalism, those detained in the camps are also forced to work for little to no money. They are also compelled to learn Mandarin. The offenses that can lead to being imprisoned in these camps can be as simple as growing a beard or praying.
Christine McCarthy, Disney's head of finance, had to address the controversy at the Bank of America virtual conference, saying,
The real facts are that Mulan was primarily shot -- almost in entirety -- in New Zealand. In an effort to accurately depict some of the unique landscape and geography of the country of China for this period drama, we filmed scenery in 20 different locations in China. It's common knowledge that, in order to film in China, you have to be granted permission. That permission comes from the central government. So, in our credits, it recognized both China and locations in New Zealand. I would just leave it at that, but it has generated a lot of issues for us.
Congress has asked for a better explanation from the company, sending the company a letter, saying,
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 decision to film parts of Mulan in the XUAR, in cooperation with local security and propaganda elements, offers tacit legitimacy to these perpetrators of crimes that may warrant the designation of genocide.
While Disney officials do notn believe that cooperating with this group is a big deal, the trouble for the company seems to have only just begun.