Netflix has issued a firm response to the five Republican senators who questioned its decision to adapt “The Three-Body Problem” sci-fi novel trilogy by Liu Cixin.
In a Sept. 24 letter, the senators, led by Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, pointed to disparaging remarks Liu had made about Uyghur Muslims in an interview last year, and suggested that Netflix should halt its plans to adapt his books.
The streamer has stood firm in a responding letter, repeatedly pointing to the fact that “Mr. Liu is the author of the books, not the creator of this series.”
“Mr. Liu’s comments are not reflective of the views of Netflix or of the show’s creators, nor are they part of the plot or themes of the show,” wrote Netflix vice president of public policy Dean Garfield in the letter.
The company added that it does “not agree with his comments,” but went on to say that Liu’s views are “entirely unrelated to his book or this Netflix show.”
In their initial letter, the senators had accused Netflix of “complicity” over its decision to adapt Liu’s work.
“We have significant concerns with Netflix’s decision to do business with an individual who is parroting dangerous CCP propaganda,” the senators wrote. “In the face of such atrocities in (Xinjiang), there no longer exist corporate decisions of complacency, only complicity.”
In the New Yorker interview in question, Liu pushed back on the interviewer’s questions about the camps in Xinjiang, and also defended the Chinese system of government, saying that democratization would lead to chaos.
News of the series adaptation emerged earlier this month, coupled with the announcement that “Game of Thrones” producers David Benioff, D.B. Weiss would be writing alongside “The Terror” alumnus Alexander Woo, as the Netflix letter points out.
Read the streamer’s full response below:
Dear Senators Blackburn, Scott, Cramer, Tillis, and McSally:
Thank you for your letter from September 23, and your interest in the upcoming Netflix series adaptation based on The Three-Body Problem. First, we’d like to note that Netflix does not operate a service in China. We address your questions and concerns below:
Q: 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?
A: Absolutely. As the UN Declaration of Human Rights (which China has signed) states “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”
Q: 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?
A: Mr. Liu is the author of the books, not the creator of this series. Mr. Liu’s comments are not reflective of the views of Netflix or of the show’s creators, nor are they part of the plot or themes of the show.
Q: 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.
A: 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.
Q: Does Netflix have a policy regarding entering into contracts with public-facing individuals who, either publicly or privately, promote principles inconsistent with Netflix’s company culture and principles? If so, please outline this policy. If not, please explain why not.
A: Netflix judges individual projects on their merits. Mr. Liu is the author of the book – The Three Body Problem – not the creator of this show. We do not agree with his comments, which are entirely unrelated to his book or this Netflix show.
Vice President, Global Public Policy