Disney Defends ’78 Seconds’ of ‘Mulan’ Footage Filmed in China

Cooperation with Chinese officials accused of human rights violations was required, film production head Sean Bailey tells Parliament

Disney defends the studio’s decision to film segments of “Mulan” in China, specifically in regions where Uyghur Muslims have been detained and tortured in internment camps.

The response from Disney’s president of film production, Sean Bailey, was directed to Parliament after Conservative MP and co-chair of the U.K. Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, Iain Duncan Smith, sent a letter to the studio inquiring about the involvement of the Turpan Bureau of Public Security in the making of the film. The Bureau was sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Commerce last year in connection to the Uyghur internment and was listed in the Special Thanks section of the “Mulan” credits.

Bailey said that “Mulan” was shot almost entirely in New Zealand, but additional location shooting was done in China “in order to accurately depict the unique geography and landscape of China for this period drama.” In Xinjiang, the province where the camps are located, the “Mulan” team filmed shots of the Kumtag Desert, which Bailey described as “an important passageway along the historic Silk Road.”

In total, Bailey says the footage from those location shoots “comprised 78 seconds” of the final cut of the film.

“The decision to film in each of these locations was made by the film’s producers in the interest of authenticity, and was in no way dictated or influenced by state or local Chinese officials,” Bailey stated.

As for the Turpan Bureau’s involvement, Bailey said that foreign film productions are required by Chinese law to partner with a local production company, which is responsible for acquiring all film permits. That company provided Disney with a list of groups to thank in the credits for granting permission to film, which Disney did as an industry standard.

But Smith, who published Bailey’s letter on Twitter, said that his response was “very weak and full of platitudes.”

“Disney simply does not want to offend China, and have given in to China’s demands and will not stand up to them,” he tweeted. “Disney’s corporate policy does not appear to care about the human rights issues affecting the Uyghurs,” he continued. “It seems human rights come second to the corporate policy of not upsetting China.”