Kodak released a statement on Tuesday apologizing for content it posted on Instagram from French photographer Patrick Wack that highlighted the mass detentions of the Uighurs in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region after backlash from Beijing supporters.
In his caption, Wack wrote his images depicted the “mass arbitrary detention system being set up in the region,” and Xinjiang’s “abrupt descent into an Orwellian dystopia” over the past five years. The Chinese government has been accused of genocide against Uighur Muslims, with reports of rape, forced labor, forced abortions and more atrocities.
But Kodak has since deleted the posting.
“Kodak’s Instagram page is intended to enable creativity by providing a platform for promoting the medium of film,” the company wrote in a statement replacing Wack’s images. “It is not intended to be a platform for political commentary. The views expressed by Mr. Wack do not represent those of Kodak and are not endorsed by Kodak. We apologize for any misunderstanding or offense the post may have caused.”
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Social media users noted that the Global Times, a state-funded newspaper in China, was “gloating” about Kodak’s statement. In the article, the Times argued that companies like Kodak were catering to “the Western demand to demonize Xinjiang” for profit and publicity.
“Experts reached by the Global Times said that Western countries, including their media organizations and individuals, have formed a stereotype about Xinjiang,” the Times wrote. “To cater to the Western demand to demonize Xinjiang, some companies and individuals would ride on the wave of Xinjiang to gain publicity and make a profit.”
“Here is Kodak bending the knee to the CC and the Chinese propaganda outlet Global Times gloating about it,” wrote the Washington Examiner’s Jerry Dunleavy.
“Another American company grovels before Communist China, profusely apologizing for a social media post critical of the regime’s ethnic cleansing of minority Muslims,” tweeted Fox News contributor Guy Benson. “Pathetic.”
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In a separate statement on the now-deleted post on the Chinese social media platform WeChat, Kodak said, “We will keep ourselves in check and correct ourselves, taking this as an example of the need for caution.”
That statement produced more outraged responses from critics, with some calling the move “shameful” and “infuriating.”
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Up to three million Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang have been taken from their homes since 2017 by authorities and taken to prison camps branded by China as “reeducation camps,” according to 2020 reports.
Wack himself commented on Kodak’s apology, saying why he found the company’s move so “upsetting.”
“So for them, one of the main actors historically in photography, to say they don’t want to be political is what’s upsetting so many people,” he said.
Multiple media outlets were recently ripped for publishing flattering profiles on the Chinese Communist Party as it marked its 100th anniversary. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shared an opposing perspective, warning on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” this month that if the CCP is able to celebrate its 200th anniversary, “we’ll live in a very, very different world.”