Five Republican US senators urged Netflix on Thursday to drop its plans to adapt a science fiction book trilogy by Chinese author Liu Cixin into a TV series, saying he has defended China’s treatment of Uighurs.
Netflix plans to turn “The Three-Body Problem” and its two sequels into a live-action English-language television series with Liu serving as a consulting producer.
In a letter, the lawmakers said the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is committing atrocities in the Xinjiang autonomous region, which is home to Uighurs, and the 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,” said the lawmakers.
They include Sens. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Rick Scott of Florida, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Martha McSally of Arizona.
They signed the letter to Ted Sarandos Jr., co-CEO and chief content officer for Netflix.
The senators also took aim at an interview Liu gave to The New Yorker magazine last summer, in which they said the Chinese author “parroted CCP talking points accusing all Uighurs of being terrorists.”
“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,” Liu said.
The lawmakers also voiced “significant concerns” over Netflix’s decision to do business with the Chinese author, saying: “In the face of such atrocities in XUAR, there no longer exist corporate decisions of complacency, only complicity,” referring to the acronym for the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.
Beijing’s policy in Xinjiang has drawn widespread criticism from rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, who accuse it of ostracizing the 12 million Uighurs in China, most of whom are Muslims.
The region is home to 10 million Uighurs. The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45% of Xinjiang’s population, has long accused China’s authorities of cultural, religious and economic discrimination.
Up to 1 million people, or about 7% of the Muslim population in Xinjiang, have been incarcerated in an expanding network of “political re-education” camps, according to US officials and UN experts.
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