Thousands of people are now calling on others to skip Disney’s live-action remake of Mulan when it hits theatres next March. The call for a boycott was sparked when the film’s lead actress Liu Yifei expressed support for the Hong Kong police, who have been criticised for their violent actions in the city’s ongoing pro-democracy protests.
Liu shared a photo originally posted by the state-run People’s Daily on social media platform Weibo that shows a red box covered with Chinese characters which read “I support Hong Kong’s police, you can hit me now.”
“What a shame for Hong Kong,” she added with the hashtag #Ialsosupportthehongkongpolice.
Her post angered many netizens, leading the hashtag #BoycottMulan to trend on Twitter worldwide.
The tweets, addressed to both Disney and Liu, slammed her support for the Hong Kong police. Some netizens accused her of supporting police brutality, while others said she had no right to comment on the issue as she is a United States citizen.
The actress, who was born in China but moved to the United States at the age of ten, moved back to her home country in 2002 to pursue an acting career.
Luxury brands Armani and Chaumet are also at the receiving end of criticism for having Liu as a brand ambassador.
Tensions remain high in Hong Kong, where pro-democracy rallies have occurred as early as March. Hundreds of thousands of citizens have come to protest against an extradition bill that would allow the Hong Kong government to send a criminal suspect to mainland China for trial. Despite Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam declaring the bill “dead” in July, protests continue to escalate.
A recent footage from Tuesday shows police officers beating demonstrators with batons and using pepper spray at the airport, where protesters rallied for several days beginning last Friday, Aug. 9. In one of the most harrowing parts of the video, a female protester can be seen being knocked to the ground, injuring her face.
The police have also fired tear gas at protesters multiple times.
China’s control over its entertainment industry is well known—the government exercises tight regulations over the media shown, and often allows movies which only portray the country positively.
This is also not the first time the upcoming Mulan film faced criticism for links to the mainland. When the Mulan trailer was first released in July, many believe its more serious take on the story (No songs or the talking dragon Mushu!) is a way of pandering to China’s nationalistic philosophy to win over the country’s moviegoers.