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Liu Yifei, the star of Disney's upcoming live-action adaptation of Mulan, is facing online backlash and calls for a boycott of her film after declaring support for Hong Kong police in the midst of ongoing protests there.
The Chinese-born Liu, who landed the high-profile role of Mulan back in 2017, posted on Weibo (a popular social media platform in China, where Twitter is banned) that she is standing with Hong Kong police amid the weeks-long protests, and apparently anticipated that she'd take heat for her comments.
"I support the Hong Kong police. You can all attack me now. What a shame for Hong Kong," she wrote, according to CNN.
The Hong Kong protests began in June in response to the government's consideration of a new extradition bill that could potentially allow Hong Kong citizens to be extradited to China at the discretion of its leaders. The bill has since been suspended, but the government of Hong Kong has also begun to arrest protestors under older rioting laws. Those arrests, along with the issues of police brutality and what protestors see as an ongoing stripping of Hong Kong's autonomy from the Chinese mainland, have only stoked the fires of the protests, and in recent days demonstrators have gone as far as storming Hong Kong's airport. For more background, you can check out this excellent explainer over at GQ.
While she was met with relative support for her statements on Weibo and other Chinese celebrities, including Jackie Chan, have voiced similar anti-protest opinions, Liu's comments attracted a particularly focused backlash due to her status as the face of an upcoming Disney blockbuster. Since she posted her comments on Thursday, "#BoycottMulan" has been tweeted about more than 46,000 times in Hong Kong, the United States, and beyond, with some pointing to Liu's American citizenship as proof that she doesn't understand what the protestors are fighting for.
Mulan is set to hit theaters March 27, and Disney is no doubt hoping the film will also play well in the major international movie market that is China. It'll be interesting to see if the Walt Disney Company responds at all to this controversy, or if they'll simply wait for the fire to die down. Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, the protests show few signs of quieting.