Opinion Columnists 21 Oct 2020 Maura Moynihan | Dis ...
Maura Moynihan is an author and Tibet expert who has worked with Tibetan refugees in India for many years

Maura Moynihan | Disney’s China problem: West’s elite covering up CCP’s misdeeds

Published Oct 21, 2020, 10:01 am IST
Updated Oct 21, 2020, 10:01 am IST
The Mulan scandal exposed the fraudulence in Disney’s “corporate social responsibility” pledges. Remember that the next time a Hollywood scion lectures you about morality.
 The Mulan scandal exposed the fraudulence in Disney’s “corporate social responsibility” pledges. Remember that the next time a Hollywood scion lectures you about morality.

The Wuhan virus has caused a million deaths, 36 million infections, 400 million job losses, and a new international poll reveals that nine out of 10 citizens in advanced economies now perceive the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as a “dangerous and malevolent force”. But the CCP remains the preferred brand for certain Western elites – 3,500 US companies are suing the government to overturn tariffs on Chinese products, that were once made in the United States with good union jobs. And Hollywood executives, so piously “woke” about identity politics and social justice, are dead silent about the atrocities of China’s totalitarian dictatorship.

Disney’s $200 million blockbuster Mulan was billed as the “cinematic adventure of the decade” -- securing Hollywood’s “family friendly studio” access to the Chinese market. Disney hired CCP consultants and cut scenes that did not conform to the CCP’s narrative of supremacy, and even watered down the ancient tale of a young girl who poses as a young man to save her aging father from military service into a dull, charmless propaganda exercise. In the credits, Disney gives “special thanks” to eight units of the Public Security Bureau, the CCP’s dreaded Gestapo, whose agents monitor, arrest and torture Tibetans and Uyghurs, Christians, Falun Gong practitioners, human rights lawyers, for such crimes as “counter revolutionary thought”.

Two British parliamentarians sent a letter of inquiry to the studio, questioning Disney’s decision to film parts of Mulan in Xinjiang, where millions of Uyghur men, women and children, are held in concentration camps, subject to forced labour, medical experiments, torture and deprivation that would make a Nazi proud. Disney just issued an officious response, stating: “There are regulations that must be followed by all foreign film production companies wanting to operate in China”, and that they followed “standard industry practices”. British MP Ian Duncan-Smith posted: “The reply from Disney Studios is very weak and full of platitudes. Disney’s corporate policy does not appear to care about the human rights issues affecting the Uighurs. It seems human rights come second to the corporate policy of not upsetting China.”

Disney is famous for burying scandals; every year there are multiple deaths in Disney theme parks, large cash payments are quietly sent to the bereaved relatives, and it is “business as usual”. But the Mulan controversy has left Disney executives in a tight spot. The CCP Virus has shuttered all movie theatres and theme parks, Disney is facing $10 billion in lost revenue in 2020, thousands of employees have been laid off, and defending the CCP isn’t going down well with the public. When Disney opened its $5.5 billion theme park in Shanghai in 2016, CEO Bob Iger gushed: “We have great Chinese partners, we have the approval of the government, this is the biggest step anywhere, actually, that we’ve ever taken anywhere to grow a market.” Last month, however, Mr Iger was uncharacteristically tongue tied when asked about the Mulan controversy on a talk show. In 2019 Mr Iger refused to comment about the crisis in Hong Kong, saying: “I don’t want to hurt our company.”

The mainstream media in the United States continues to cover up for the CCP; there is scant reporting on the catastrophic floods in China and the impending supply chain disruptions and food shortages. Barely a mention of the continuing PLA attacks on India or the erosion of Hong Kong civil society. Today six companies control 90 per cent of American media outlets, and they all have major investments in China. Disney owns ABC News, which praises China for its “superior” handling of the pandemic. India didn’t create the global pandemic, India does not lock millions of people into concentration camps, but India gets much tougher coverage in the Western press. As my late father Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a former US ambassador to India, once observed: “If a country’s papers are filled with good news, you can be sure its jails are filled with good men.”

In 2013 the Obama administration passed a ruling that exempts Chinese companies from audits on Wall Street, a privilege extended to no other nationality. Since the CCP Virus crippled the US economy and destroyed the livelihoods of millions of citizens, US capital markets sent billions of US dollars to CCP companies. The US state department just reversed another Obama era policy that prioritised visas for Chinese applications; now CCP members are barred from obtaining US immigration visas. Citizens from democratic India have great difficulty getting US visas, but Chinese Communists have for years been pushed to the front of the visa queue.

Western elites willingly sent their factories and dollars to China, without asking for -- or wanting -- political reform. The Kissinger doctrine of “constructive engagement” with China’s totalitarian dictatorship has entangled the West in a relationship that is morally repugnant and politically dangerous. Exiled artist Ai Weiwei recently stated: “The West should really have worried about China decades ago. Now it’s already a bit too late, because the West has built its strong system in China and to simply cut it off, it will hurt deeply. That’s why China is very arrogant.”

The Mulan scandal exposed the fraudulence in Disney’s “corporate social responsibility” pledges. Remember that the next time a Hollywood scion lectures you about morality.



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