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Marsha Blackburn, Colleagues Raise Concerns About Netflix’s Choice to Adapt and Promote Film by Proponent of Uyghur Internment

 

U.S. SenateWashington, D.C. – Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) led her colleagues in raising concerns with Netflix after the streaming platform’s decision to adapt and promote “The Three-Body Problem” by Liu Cixin as a live-action series on the network.

Liu has propagated genocidal rhetoric regarding the Muslim Uyghurs, and has openly supported the religious minorities internment at “re-education” camps in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). The adaptation is one of Netflix’s first entrees into the Chinese market.

Senator Marsha Blackburn.

Senator Marsha Blackburn.

Senators Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), and Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) also signed the letter.

“Sadly, a number of U.S. companies continue to either actively or tacitly allow the normalization of, or apologism for, these crimes. The decision to produce an adaptation of Mr. Liu’s work can be viewed as such normalization,” the Senators write to Todd Sarandos, the Chief Content Officer of Netflix.

“In an interview with the New Yorker last summer, when asked about the ongoing atrocities in XUAR, Mr. Liu stated… ‘If anything, the government is helping their economy and trying to lift them out of poverty…If you were to loosen up the country a bit, the consequences would be terrifying.’

It is notable that Liu would hold such execrable views of Uyghurs while in his book he so vividly documents the plight of struggling artists and the alienation to which they were subjected. Despite the sympathy he appears to have for the characters in his book, he does not extend that same feeling to the minority in his own country. Either Liu is an apologist for crimes against Uyghurs or he is caving to the CCP’s doctrine.

The Senators continue, “While Congress seriously considers the systemic crimes carried out against the Uyghurs, we have significant concerns with Netflix’s decision to do business with an individual who is parroting dangerous CCP propaganda. In the face of such atrocities in XUAR, there no longer exist corporate decisions of complacency, only complicity.”

Earlier this year, Senator Blackburn joined over seventy members of the Senate and the House in urging Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin to issue a formal determination of the atrocity crimes, including crimes against humanity and genocide against Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim ethnic minorities.

The letter may be found below and here.

 

Dear Mr. Sarandos:

We write today with questions regarding a decision by Netflix to adapt and promote “The Three-Body Problem” by Mr. Liu Cixin as a live-action series on your network.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is committing atrocities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), also known as East Turkistan to locals, including mass imprisonment, forced labor, thought transformation in order to denounce religion and culture, involuntary medical testing, and forced sterilization and abortion. These crimes are committed systemically and at a scale which may warrant a distinction of genocide. Sadly, a number of U.S. companies continue to either actively or tacitly allow the normalization of, or apologism for, these crimes. The decision to produce an adaptation of Mr. Liu’s work can be viewed as such normalization.

 


 

In an interview with the New Yorker last summer, when asked about the ongoing atrocities in XUAR, Mr. Liu parroted CCP talking points accusing all Uyghurs of being terrorists, then stating, “If anything, the government is helping their economy and trying to lift them out of poverty…If you were to loosen up the country a bit, the consequences would be terrifying.” When the interviewer draws similarities to Mr. Liu’s trilogy, in which Australia’s population is enslaved and find that they prefer totalitarianism to democracy, Liu implies that she has been brainwashed by the West and that she, “with [her] inflexible sense of morality, was the alien.”

While Congress seriously considers the systemic crimes carried out against the Uyghurs, we have significant concerns with Netflix’s decision to do business with an individual who is parroting dangerous CCP propaganda. In the face of such atrocities in XUAR, there no longer exist corporate decisions of complacency, only complicity.

In light of these concerns, we respectfully request answers to the following questions:

  1. Does Netflix agree that the Chinese Communist Party’s interment of 1.8 to 3 million Uyghurs in internment or labor camps based on their ethnicity is unacceptable?
  2. Were Netflix senior executives aware of the statements made by Mr. Liu Cixin regarding the CCP’s genocidal acts prior to entering into an agreement to adapt his work? If so, please outline the reasoning that led Netflix to move forward with this project. If not, please describe Netflix’s standard process of due diligence and the gaps therein that led to this oversight.
  3. Does Netflix have a policy regarding entering into contracts with public-facing individuals who, either publically or privately, promote principles inconsistent with Netflix’s company culture and principles? If so, please outline this policy. If not, please explain why not.
  4. In order to avoid any further glorification of the CCP’s actions against the Uyghurs, or validation of the Chinese regime and agencies responsible for such acts, what steps will Netflix take to cast a critical eye on this project – to include the company’s broader relationship with Mr. Liu?

 


 

Netflix’s company culture statement asserts that “Entertainment, like friendship, is a fundamental human need; it changes how we feel and gives us common ground.” This statement is a beautiful summary of the value of the American entertainment industry, which possesses innovation largely unmatched in the global market. We ask Netflix to seriously reconsider the implications of providing a platform to Mr. Liu in producing this project.

We appreciate your swift and detailed response to these inquiries.


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