Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis lashed out again at Disney for profiting off of China while ignoring its long-existing human rights abuses.
“Disney has done a lot to partner with the Chinese Communist Party and really has made a fortune over there without raising a peep about any of their atrocities,” DeSantis said on May 2 at a press conference announcing a $30 million in funding for manatee protection.
“China is the number one geopolitical threat that this country faces. You’ve had the ruling elite in this country for decades have basically done all they can to elevate China. And a lot of them made a fortune off it. But it’s made our country weaker, it’s eroded our industrial base.”
In 2020, Disney came under fire for partly filming the live-action movie “Mulan” in China’s far west Xinjiang region, where more than 1 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities are being detained in internment camps.
In the end credit, Disney also offered “special thanks” to the Chinese regime’s agencies in Xinjiang, including local propaganda departments.
The U.S. government and other Western parliaments have labeled the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) actions in the region a genocide.
Late last year, Disney’s newly-launched streaming channel in Hong Kong removed an episode of “The Simpsons” that makes reference to the CCP’s 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
Despite the company’s silence on human rights violations in China, Disney has spoken out against a parental rights law signed by DeSantis in late March.
Facing an outcry from LGBTQ communities and staff, CEO Bob Chapek alleged in a statement the new legislation—which was to ban Florida educators from instructing very young children on gender ideologies and sexual orientation—would bring up “another challenge to basic human rights.” The company had also paused all political donations in Florida.
It was not long before DeSantis signed on April 22 a legislature-passed bill stripping Walt Disney World’s decades-long self-governing status in central Florida since 1967.
Disney didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Its theme parks division has suffered from COVID-related closures in both Hong Kong and mainland China, while North American parks and resorts delivered revenue above pre-pandemic levels.
“We need to get real here and understand that China’s a threat,” DeSantis said during Monday’s conference.
He noted that China’s overseas influence is barely in the best interests of others. “They’re going to do whatever is in their immediate best interest and that’s going to be the end of it,” he said. “But clearly, we don’t want these toxic regimes to be flexing muscle in our hemisphere.”
After being asked about how Washington could fix its image on the world stage, the Florida governor said President Joe Biden’s “floundering” performance is allowing aggressive behavior from authoritarian regimes such as Beijing and Moscow. Referencing the Russia–Ukraine crisis, he said the Kremlin would not have invaded Ukraine if Biden had taken a hard-line stance.
“We need to have strong alliances with the Japanese, South Koreans, I think India needs to be in our orbit, to try to check China’s influence around the world,” he said, “but particularly when you start talking about the Western Hemisphere, it’s a big problem. It’s not just South America, you see them in the Caribbean flexing their muscle.”