Why is Mulan Facing a Boycott?

Disney’s live action remake of “Mulan” has faced a bumpy road this year. The long-awaited film was supposed to be released on March 27th, was pushed to July 24th and is set to be going straight to the streaming service Disney Plus in the United States this month. 

Being one of the countries that don’t have access to Disney Plus yet, it finally had its theatrical release in Malaysia on September 4th and is now available in cinemas across the country.

As one of the first major movie releases since the coronavirus pandemic shut down film production and cinemas worldwide, the $200 million reboot served as a silver lining for many at this time, who grew up watching the animated version of Mulan that came out back in 22 years ago in 1998.

However, a recent unearthing of the lead actress, Liu YiFei’s, Weibo account has led to the movie being called for boycott in some countries such as Thailand, Taiwan and also the United States. 

Liu, who stars as Hua Mulan herself, angered fans last year with comments that were reporting supporting Hong Kong’s police, who were accused of violence towards pro-democracy protestors.

Last year, young people in Hong Kong has led months of demonstrations against a law which would allow extradition from Hong Kong to mainland China. The protests expanded to include demands for a democratic reform and also an inquiry into the alleged police brutality.

During a period of unrest the Chinese-born actress Liu, who’s an American citizen, shared a post from the government-run Beijing newspaper People’s Daily on Weibo.

“I support the Hong Kong police. You can all attack me now. What a shame for Hong Kong,” it read.

She went on to receive widespread support on Weibo users in China, but that wasn’t the case for Twitter, which is among the many social media platforms banned in China.

The hashtag #BoycottMulan started to trend, more so during the week of Mulan’s release; Twitter users accused the actress of supporting police brutality and also pointed to the freedom she enjoys as an American citizen.

All coming from the happenings of last year, the law behind the initial protest was dropped. 

In April this year, many high-profile pro-democracy activists were arrested by Hong Kong police and a law deemed “the end of Hong Kong” was passed in June – a law that criminalises many things that could pose a threat to China’s authority in Hong Kong.

Prominent activist Joshua Wong has also since called for “everyone who believes in human rights to #BoycottMulan”.

In China, although viewers have spotted historical inaccuracies in the trailer, a poll created when the trailer came out showed that 115,000 users on Weibo were satisfied with what they saw.

“China finally has its own Disney princess,” as one user put it.

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