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China Releases 'La La Land-inspired' Musical Film Depicting 'Happy' Lives of Uighur Muslims

The Wings of Songs | Image credit: YouTube

The Wings of Songs | Image credit: YouTube

Titled 'The Wings of Songs', the film follows the lives of three men - an Uighur Muslim, a Han Chinese and a Kazakh, who get together to form a musical group in Xinjiang.

To counter backlash regarding its alleged mistreatment of Uighur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang, China has launched a musical fashioned in the style of the Oscar-nominated Hollywood film ‘La La Land’. The musical titled ‘Wings of Songs’ is widely being dubbed as a propaganda film by critics. It depicts the lives of Uighur Muslims in China but, according to reports, fails to mention any of the reported atrocities or stringent surveillance systems faced by the community in the country.

The film released in China on March 28. The story follows the lives of three men – an Uighur Muslim, a Han Chinese and a Kazakh, who get together to form a musical group in Xinjiang. The autonomous region in northwestern China is home to a large number of ethnic minorities such as the Turkic Uighur Muslims.

China has been denying mounting pressure from the international community regarding its alleged treatment of Uighur Muslims, many of whom are reportedly held in concentration camps under strict surveillance, with critics accusing the Lin Jinping regime of committing genocide. In June 2020, news agency Associated Press reported that the Chinese government was taking draconian measures to slash birth rates among Uighurs and other minorities as part of a sweeping campaign to curb its Muslim population while encouraging some of the country’s Han majority to have more children.

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According to a more recent report in the BBC, human rights groups estimate over a million Uighurs have been detained in what are officially known as ‘re-education camps’. The report also noted that there is evidence of Uighurs beings used as forced labour and forced sterilisation of Uighur women.

As allegations of slavery and forced labour inside Xinjiang’s cotton industry draw renewed global attention, including big brands like Nike saying they would no longer source materials from the region, inside China, Beijing seems to be curating a very different narrative for the troubled region.

Rap songs, photo exhibitions musicals like “The Wings of Songs” – are leading the cultural reframing of the region, while a legion of celebrities has seemingly unprompted leaped to the defence of Xinjiang’s tarnished textile industry.

Beijing denies all allegations of abuse and has instead recast Xinjiang as a haven of social cohesion and economic renewal that has turned its back on years of violent extremism thanks to benevolent state intervention.

In the face of mounting pressure, the La La Land-inspired ‘The Wings of Songs’, depicts the relationship between the Uighur Muslims and Han Chinese as ‘seeds of a pomegranate’. According to a report in The New York Times, the film contains no mention of any of the reported abuses and violations of human rights against minorities in China.

(With inputs from agencies)

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first published:April 07, 2021, 13:18 IST