Falls Church, VA | March 09, 2022 10:00 AM Eastern Standard Time
On Wednesday, March 9, National Legal and Policy Center will present a resolution at The Walt Disney Company’s annual shareholder meeting that would require an annual report on the company’s efforts to determine human rights impacts in dealing with foreign entities.
The resolution comes in light of what has been Disney’s longtime cozy relationship with the communist government of China, which has been credibly accused of slavery, torture and genocide.
“Disney for too long has taken its partnership with this authoritarian regime too lightly, and it’s time for shareholders to receive an accounting of the company’s interactions,” said Paul Chesser, director of NLPC’s Corporate Integrity Project. “Unfortunately the company’s board of directors opposes our resolution. We will see if our fellow shareholders agree with them.”
Chesser will present the resolution at the meeting, and excerpts of his remarks will be posted afterward at NLPC.org. The full text of NLPC’s shareholder resolution follows:
Proposal — Human Rights Due Diligence Report
Resolved: Shareholders request that, beginning in 2022, Disney report on the process of due diligence, if any, that the Company undertakes in evaluating the human rights impacts of its business and associations with foreign entities, including foreign governments, their agencies, and private sector intermediaries.
Disney became the center of controversy in 2020 when it was reported that the film credits for Mulan offered “special thanks” to eight Chinese government entities in Xinjiang province. Both the Biden and Trump administrations have formally characterized the Chinese government’s policy toward the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang as “genocide.”
The credits also expressed thanks to the publicity department of CPC Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomy Region Committee, the Chinese Communist party’s propaganda agency in Xinjiang.
According to the September 3, 2020 Wall Street Journal, “Disney shared the script with Chinese authorities,” prior to receiving permission to release the film in China.
Mulan’s titular character was played by Chinese-American actress Liu Yifei, who in 2019, expressed support for the police crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
In an October 7, 2020 letter to British legislators, Sean Bailey, President of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production, stated:
“In any motion picture production, several factors are considered when making decisions about where to produce the film, including: economics, logistics, accessibility, availability of actors, to name just a few.”
Notably absent was how a production might impact human rights. If one were to “name just a few” factors, it would seem that human rights would be paramount, especially in parts of the world like Xinjiang Province, China.
Information on Disney’s due diligence on human rights, or lack thereof, would allow shareholders to better evaluate business and reputational risks inherent in cooperation with totalitarian and authoritarian regimes that violate human rights.
Founded in 1991, NLPC promotes ethics in public life and government accountability through research, investigation, education, and legal action.
National Legal and Policy Center