The lead actress in Disney's upcoming live-action remake of Mulan expressed support for police repressing pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, prompting calls to boycott the film.
"I support the Hong Kong police. You can all attack me now," actress Liu Yifei posted on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform. "What a shame for Hong Kong."
Yifei also included a Chinese propaganda post against the protesters and used the hashtag #IAlsoSupportTheHongKongPolice along with a heart and strong arm emoji.
The hashtag #BoycottMulan is trending in response to the comments, CBS News reports.
Earlier this week, pro-democracy protesters shut down Hong Kong's airport, the latest episode in a protest movement that began in June against a proposed extradition law. The law would permit some criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial. Despite the bill being suspended, protesters have continued to call for reforms.
Videos have shown police firing tear gas and beanbag rounds against protesters at close range, possibly in violation of international law. Video has also emerged of Hong Kong protesters waving American flags and singing America's national anthem.
China's influence over Hollywood has grown in recent years.
The Heritage Foundation's Mike Gonzalez has noted that Hollywood movie scripts must be submitted to Chinese censors, who typically "change your script, change your movie in order to portray China as not the dictatorship that it is, but as a benevolent country no different from the UK or France."
Censorship has prompted scriptwriters and producers to start writing films they know will be approved in China.
"So, if you're a Hollywood studio, and you know that Tibet is [forbidden], you're not going to include anything about Tibet," Gonzalez observes.
Freedom House rates China as one of the least free countries in the world, writing that it "has become increasingly repressive in recent years," with the ruling Communist Party "tightening its control over the state bureaucracy, the media, online speech, religious groups, universities, businesses, and civil society associations, and it has undermined its own already modest rule-of-law reforms."
The State Department's most recent human rights report highlights a lengthy list of human rights violations, including "arbitrary or unlawful killings by the government; forced disappearances by the government; torture by the government; arbitrary detention by the government; harsh and life-threatening prison and detention conditions; political prisoners; arbitrary interference with privacy; physical attacks on and criminal prosecution of journalists, lawyers, writers, bloggers, dissidents, petitioners, and others as well as their family members; censorship and site blocking," among other violations.
China has also continued to repress Tibetans in the Tibet Autonomous Region and has waged an increasingly repressive campaign against the Uighurs in Xinjiang.