Hong Kong censors must scrutinize all films for national security violations under powers extended in the latest blow to the city’s political and artistic freedoms.
Authorities in semi-autonomous Hong Kong have embarked on a massive crackdown to root out critics of Beijing after huge and often violent protests for democracy convulsed the city in 2019.
Since then, a new security law imposed by China and an official campaign called “Patriots Rule Hong Kong” have criminalized much of the dissent and strangled the democracy movement. The last objective is the movies.
In a statement on Friday, the government said the film censorship ordinance had been expanded to include “any act or activity that may constitute an open danger to national security.”
“When considering a film as a whole and its effect on viewers, the censor must take into account his duties to prevent and suppress acts or activities that endanger national security, and the common responsibility of the Hong Kong people to safeguard the sovereignty, unification and territorial integrity of the People’s Republic of China ”, states the new guide, which takes effect immediately.
Films are rigorously vetted in mainland China and only a handful of Western films or documentaries are released commercially each year. The Hong Kong Film Censorship Authority has traditionally employed a much lighter touch.
However, there are growing signs of continental-style controls over the cultural and arts scene in Hong Kong.
In March, an award-winning documentary about the massive pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong was pulled hours before its first commercial screening after days of criticism from a pro-Beijing newspaper. He said the film’s content violated the new national security law.
Earlier this year, a university canceled a prestigious press photo exhibition featuring images from the 2019 protests, citing security concerns.
YM +, a multi-million dollar contemporary art museum expected to open soon, has said it will allow security officials to examine its collection for violations of security laws before it opens to the public later this year.