Republican Senators have sent a letter to Netflix, challenging The Three-Body Problem TV series adaptation that Netflix has in the works. Why the big issue? According to the senators (via Tennessee senator Marsha Blackburn), they object to Netflix turning the popular book series by Liu Cixin into a major blockbuster series on clear moral grounds. As the letter states: "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." As you an read below, the letter asserts that Liu Cixin has publicly supported humantarian violations in China, and therefore should not have his work adapted as a major TV series.
The incident being referenced here are the comments Liu Cixin made in an interview with the New Yorker last summer, regarding the alleged atrocities being committed in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), by the Chinese Communist Party. Liu Cixin made somewhat controversial comments in that interview, implying that the Muslim residents of XUAR were all terrorists and that the government's actions were actually to the benefit of the people there. In his own words:
"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."
While that statement was clearly tainted with the bigoted sentiment, it's arguable if Liu Cixin is the CCP propagandist that American GOP senators are asserting he is. A longer read of the same interview generally reveals Liu Cixin as a man of an aging generation of Chinese citizens, who see law and order as more important to society than freedom and choice. They are themes that echo into The Three-Body Problem, and its story of alternate earth that faces alien invasion. (For example, humans of a conquered Australia discover they like the security of Authoritarianism over the dread of democracy...).
The moral question of adapting Liu Cixin's work and political angles for doing so could be two very different things. Below you can read the four points that Republican senators are pushing Netflix to address in moving forward with The Three-Body Problem:
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
The Three-Body Problem is being adapted for TV by Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. The pair have already courted major controversy for another series they wanted to develop for HBO, which would've imagined if the South had won the American Civil War. That series was ultimately passed on by HBO.