Republican senators push back against Netflix over "Game of Thrones" creators' new series

The streamer had announced that David Benioff & D.B. Weiss are adapting Liu Cixin’s sci-fi "The Three-Body Problem"

Published September 24, 2020 7:12PM (EDT)

D. B. Weiss and David Benioff (Getty Images/HBO/Disney/Lucasfilms/Salon)
D. B. Weiss and David Benioff (Getty Images/HBO/Disney/Lucasfilms/Salon)

This article originally appeared on IndieWire.

Republican senators have sent a letter to Netflix chief content officer and co-CEO Ted Sarandos pushing back against the streaming service's upcoming series "The Three-Body Problem." Netflix announced September 1 that "Game of Thrones" creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are adapting Liu Cixin's science-fiction trilogy "The Three-Body Problem" for the streamer with the help of "The Terror: Infamy" writer Alexander Woo and executive producers Rian Johnson and Rosamund Pike. The letter claims that by producing the series Netflix is "normalizing" the imprisonment of Uighur Muslims in China's Xinjiang province.

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The senators point to an interview "Three-Body Problem" author Liu Cixin gave in 2019 to The New Yorker in which he expressed approval over the imprisonment of Uighur Muslims. Human right abuses are reportedly taking place in Xinjiang province, including the detainment of over one million Uighur Muslims.

When asked in 2019 about imprisoning Muslims in Xinjiang, Liu Cixin responded, "Would you rather that they be hacking away at bodies at train stations and schools in terrorist attacks? If anything, the government is helping their economy and trying to lift them out of poverty."

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The letter to Netflix is signed by Martha McSally (R., Ariz.), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Rick Scott (Fla.), Kevin Cramer (R., N.D.), and Thom Tillis (R., N.C.). The Republican members ask Netflix to rethink its working relationship with Liu Cixin considering his comments, while adding, "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?"

"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,'" the letter concludes. "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."

Disney came under fire earlier this month for filming its live-action "Mulan" adaptation in parts of the Xinjiang province. The end credits of "Mulan" also include a "special thanks" to the "publicity department of CPC Xinjiang Uighur Autonomy Region Committee" and to the public security bureau in the city of Turpan, which is where detainment centers are reportedly in operation.

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With the first installment of the "Three-Body Problem" series, Liu Cixin became the first writer in Asia to win the prestigious Hugo Award. The book is set during the Cultural Revolution when humans establish contact with an alien civilization on the edge of extinction. After the aliens invade earth, humans split off into two camps: one in favor of takeover by the superior aliens and the other determined to resist.

IndieWire has reached out to Netflix for further comment.

By Zack Sharf

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