Disney’s live-action remake of “Mulan” is facing further calls for a boycott after Donnie Yen, a star of the upcoming film, reportedly voiced support for Beijing’s new draconian national security law on Hong Kong.
It comes after Mulan star Yifei Liu—a film and TV actress well known in China—came under fire in August last year for allegedly praising Hong Kong police in a post on Chinese-owned social media platform Weibo.
In a Facebook post on July 1, 56-year-old actor and martial artist Yen described the passage of the law as a “celebration day for Hong Kong returned to motherland China 23 years [sic].”
The law, which came into effect in Hong Kong last week, criminalizes individuals for any acts of subversion, secession, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces, with maximum penalties of life imprisonment. Critics fear the law will be used to crack down on those critical of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Concerns have been raised that the legislature breaches Hong Kong’s Basic Law, which guarantees that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights can remain in force in the territory.
Under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which set the terms of Hong Kong’s transfer to Chinese rule in 1997, the regime agreed to grant the city autonomy and freedoms not enjoyed in the mainland, under the formula of “one country, two systems.”
“I am fighting for the Chinese people which indeed for the longest time, been undermined and disrespected, but worst abused,” Yen wrote in response to a Facebook user’s comment that said it is “tragic” that the actor is unable to fight “for the people” in real life, as he does on set.
On his official Twitter page, Yen has retweeted a number of pro-Beijing posts, including a video published by Chinese state-owned media group Global Times which says that the United States has shown “typical double standards” on Hong Kong and U.S. protests.
The actor’s comments came as Walt Disney postponed the debut of the $200 million live-action remake of its animated classic, Mulan, until Aug. 21, due to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.
The remake has been expected to rank as one of the company’s biggest hits of the year, and was scheduled to debut in March. It was first postponed until July 24 when the coronavirus outbreak forced theaters around the world to close.
“While the pandemic has changed our release plans for ‘Mulan’ and we will continue to be flexible as conditions require, it has not changed our belief in the power of this film and its message of hope and perseverance,” Alan Horn and Alan Bergman, co-chairmen of Walt Disney Studios, said in a statement.
The movie was tailored to appeal especially to the Chinese market. The story features a Chinese heroine and an all-Asian cast, and parts were filmed in China.
Reuters contributed to this report.