Disney Reneges on Meeting with Uyghur Genocide Victims, Lawmakers Say

'It’s time for Disney to own up to its mistakes and make amends'

Disney CEO Bob Iger (Getty Images)
May 11, 2023

Disney executives reneged on an offer to meet with Uyghur genocide victims, which lawmakers say raises concerns that the company is kowtowing to the Chinese government.

A group of Uyghurs, their families, and advocates reached out to Disney to discuss the company’s friendly relationship with Beijing and its decision to shoot a film in the province where the CCP is oppressing the country’s Muslim minority. But while Disney initially agreed to meet, the company "suddenly cut off the correspondence" and have since "evaded meeting with victims of the Uyghur genocide," according to a Tuesday letter from the lawmakers to Disney CEO Robert Iger, a copy of which was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The letter comes as Congress steps up investigations into American companies’ willingness to cooperate with China. The House Select Committee on China is investigating Nike and Adidas for their reliance on Chinese slave labor, the Free Beacon reported. The letter is also the latest political dustup for Disney, which has been locked in an ongoing battle with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R.). 

Human rights groups attempted to schedule the aborted meeting on behalf of the Uyghur victims in order to discuss Disney’s live-action Mulan. The film was shot in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, ground-zero for the CCP’s mass human rights crimes against the Muslim ethnic minority.

The film's credits also "thanked several Chinese government agencies," including the Public Security Bureau of Turpan, which was sanctioned by the Trump administration for human rights crimes. Disney also thanked the Publicity Department of CPC Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Committee, "the CCP propaganda arm charged with covering up the abuses," according to the letter, whose authors include Rep. Jim Banks (R., Ind.) and House Select Committee on China chairman Mike Gallagher (R., Wis.).

While filming Mulan, "Disney cooperated with Chinese security and propaganda authorities active in the [Xinjiang region], including ones complicit in Beijing’s human rights atrocities," according to the lawmakers, who say "it strains credulity that Disney was unaware of the genocide occurring around its film sets."

At the time, Iger served as Disney’s executive chairman under former CEO Bob Chapek. Now that Iger is back in control of the company, Banks and his colleagues are pressing Iger and other Disney executives to "make amends" with the Uyghur dissident community by publicly meeting with genocide victims, alongside members of Congress.

"Disney publicly praised Chinese Communist Party agencies committing genocide and then privately scorned their victims," Banks told the Free Beacon. "It’s time for Disney to own up to its mistakes and make amends."

Disney has faced criticism for its friendly relations with the Chinese government and compliance with the country’s strict media censorship. Last month, Iger met with Committee members to answer questions about his company’s relationship with China and censorship issues. The company’s relationship with China has also attracted the attention of shareholders, who reportedly asked the company earlier this year to come clean about its business dealings with the CCP.

Disney did not respond to a request for comment.