Hong Kong cinema dealt a blow by censorship law banning films that ‘endanger national security’
By Bryan Ke
October 28, 2021
Hong Kong lawmakers have passed a new law that tightens censorship on films and bans them if they are deemed a security risk.
What happened: Passed by the Legislative Council of Hong Kong on Wednesday, the new law will give the chief secretary the authority to render film licenses invalid, according to BBC. It targets films that “endorse, support, glorify, encourage and incite activities that might endanger national security.”
- The law was passed by a showing of hands during a legislature meeting involving the opposition-free Legislative Council.
- Councilor and law professor Priscilla Leung said the new rule complies with human rights laws, adding that it will hopefully prevent the “brainwashing” of the younger generation.
- Authorities can perform a warrantless search of premises that might be screening films that did not receive any licenses. Violators could face penalties, such as up to three years of imprisonment and a fine of a million Hong Kong dollars (approximately $130,000).
- The new censorship law came two years after a “dangerous” national security bill triggered a widespread months-long pro-democracy rally in Hong Kong in 2019.
- Commerce Secretary Edward Yau explained the new law also covers online content after several pro-Beijing supporters voiced their concerns over the wording of the new rule, AFP reported.
- “The goal is very clear: it’s to improve the film censorship system, to prevent any act endangering the national security,” Yau said, according to Reuters.
Other details: Filmmakers are worried about the new law, saying it could severely impact creativity and freedom of expression in Hong Kong.
- Speaking to Reuters, Kiwi Chow said it would “worsen self-censorship and fuel fear among filmmakers.”
- “Adding national security clauses to the bill is clear political censorship,” Kenny Ng, an associate professor at the Academy of Film at Hong Kong Baptist University, said. “It’s heavy-handed. The film industry will need time to adapt.”
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