Hong Kong to amend law to step up film censorship
Hong Kong authorities announce plans to amend film censorship law to ban screenings of films deemed to be against national security
HONG KONG – Authorities in Hong Kong announced on Tuesday that they plan to amend a film censorship law to ban screenings of films deemed to be against national security.
The proposed changes to Hong Kong’s Film Censorship Ordinance would strengthen film censorship in the semi-autonomous city, expanding the ongoing crackdown on political dissent that has led to the shutdown of various pro-democracy organizations and the arrest of dozens of activists.
The changes would require a censor to determine whether a film contains material that endangers national security. Older films that were previously allowed to be screened could also have their approval revoked for national security reasons.
“We need this provision to meet the circumstances in which a film that has been created or approved before – but given the new law enacted and new guidelines released – we may need to reconsider such cases,” Edward Yau, secretary of commerce. and economic development, said Tuesday at a press conference.
The changes would apply to films made in Hong Kong as well as those produced elsewhere. The Hong Kong film industry is widely known for directors such as Wong Kar-wai, Tsui Hark, John Woo and Stanley Kwan and actors such as Jackie Chan, Chow Yun-fat, Jet Li, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Maggie Cheung.
Those who violate the ordinance and show banned films face up to three years in prison and a fine of HK $ 1 million ($ 128,400).
Changes to the law, if passed, bring the city closer to censorship levels in mainland China, where authorities have the power to block movies, TV shows and content deemed politically sensitive or contrary to Party values. Chinese Communist.
Britain ceded Hong Kong to mainland China in 1997 as part of a “one country, two systems” framework that allowed it freedoms not found on the mainland for 50 years, including freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of expression.
But critics say Hong Kong is quickly losing those freedoms after Beijing imposed a strict national security law on the city in June of last year after months of political unrest and anti-government protests in 2019.
The law – which prohibits secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign collusion to interfere in city affairs – has been used to arrest more than 100 pro-democracy figures.
Many pro-democracy organizations, such as the organizer of the Civil Human Rights Front rally and the pro-democracy union of professional teachers, have been dissolved following allegations that they violated security laws.