Netflix responded Friday evening to five Republican senators who sent a letter to the streamer service’s chief content officer and co-CEO Ted Sarandos on Wednesday over its plan to have the executive producers of Game of Thrones adapt Chinese author Liu Cixin’s sci-fi trilogy The Three-Body Problem.
In the letter, the lawmakers allege that the streamer would be “normalizing” China’s mass imprisonment of Uyghur Muslims in the country’s northwestern province of Xinjiang if it were to work with Liu. The senators quote from a lengthy interview Liu gave to The New Yorker in 2019, in which he responded to a question about China’s mass internment of Muslims by saying, “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.”
The Senators’ letter posed a sequence of questions asking Netflix to justify its decision to proceed with the project in partnership with Liu (in full). The letter was signed by Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Rick Scott (Fla.), Martha McSally (R., Ariz.), Kevin Cramer (R., N.D.), and Thom Tillis (R., N.C.).
Netflix’s VP of Global Public Policy Dean Garfield began his response by informing the legislators that “Netflix does not operate a service in China.”
The response by Garfield continued in a Q&A format to address concerns, overall noting that while the author of The Three-Body Problem supports the Chinese government’ss inhumane policy, EPs David Benioff and D.B. Weiss as well as Netflix do not share those views.
“Mr. Liu is a Chinese citizen living in China — he is the author of the books, not the creator of this Netflix series. The creators are David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the creators of Game of Thrones, and Alexander Woo, executive producer/writer on the series True Blood,” the response includes.
The response adds that the streamer ” judges individual projects on their merits” and overall does not agree with Liu’s comments, “which are entirely unrelated to his book or this Netflix show.”
China’s brutal treatment of its Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang has included credible reports of forced labor, systematic “reeducation,” and forced sterilizations to reduce population sizes.
The Three-Body Problem is the first series order for Benioff and Weiss since they signed a nine-figure overall deal at Netflix in 2019, after the conclusion of Game of Thrones.