By Tyler Aquilina
September 26, 2020 at 02:36 PM EDT
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Credit: Tor Books

Netflix has come under fire from Republican lawmakers for greenlighting an adaptation of Chinese author Liu Cixin's The Three-Body Problem trilogy. On Wednesday, five senators sent a letter to Ted Sarandos, the streamer's co-CEO and Chief Content Officer, accusing Netflix of "normalizing" China's mass imprisonment and persecution of Uyghur Muslims.

The letter (which can be read in full here) points to comments by Liu in a 2019 New Yorker interview, in which the author defended the government's treatment of Uyghurs. “Would you rather that they be hacking away at bodies at train stations and schools in terrorist attacks?" the author said. "If anything, the government is helping their economy and trying to lift them out of poverty."

Netflix announced in September that Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss, along with writer-producer Alexander Woo (True Blood), would adapt Liu's sci-fi epic The Three-Body Problem into a series for the streaming service. Liu is also attached as a consulting producer.

"While Congress seriously considers the systemic crimes carried out against the Uyghurs, we have significant concerns with Netflix’s decision to do business with an individual who is parroting dangerous [Chinese Communist Party] propaganda," the GOP senators wrote in their letter to Netflix. They went on to pose several questions asking the streamer to justify its choice to produce the project and collaborate with Liu.

On Friday, Netflix issued a response in a letter of its own, writing, "Mr. Liu is a Chinese citizen living in China — he is the author of the books, not the creator of this Netflix series."

"Netflix judges individual projects on their merits," the letter adds. "We do not agree with his comments, which are entirely unrelated to his book or this Netflix show."

This news comes in the wake of controversy over Disney's live-action Mulan remake, which was partially filmed in China's Xinjiang region, where more than a million Uyghurs have been detained in internment camps. U.S. lawmakers also sent a letter to Disney CEO Bob Chapek, asking him to explain the decision to film in Xinjiang and clarify the Chinese government's involvement with the film. Chapek has yet to publicly respond to the controversy.

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