Hong Kong censors must review all films for national security breaches under expanded powers in the latest blow to the city’s political and artistic freedoms.
The semi-autonomous Hong Kong authorities have embarked on a sweeping crackdown to stamp out criticism of Beijing after huge and often violent democracy protests rocked the city in 2019.
A new Chinese-imposed security law and an official campaign called “Patriots Rule Hong Kong” have since criminalized much of the dissent and strangled the democratic movement. The last target is the cinema.
In a statement issued on Friday, the government said the Film Censorship Ordinance had been broadened to include “any act or activity that may constitute an offense endangering national security.”
“When considering a film as a whole and its effects on viewers, the censor must take into account his duties to prevent and suppress acts or activities endangering national security, and the common responsibility of the people of Hong Kong. to safeguard the sovereignty, unification and territorial integrity of the People’s Republic of China, ”says the new directive, which comes into force immediately.
Films are tightly controlled on the Chinese mainland and only a handful of Western films or documentaries see a commercial release each year. The Hong Kong Film Censorship Authority has traditionally used a much lighter touch.
Still, there are increasing signs of continental style controls on the cultural and artistic scenes in Hong Kong.
In March, an award-winning documentary on 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 content of the film violated the new national security law.
Earlier this year, a university canceled a prestigious press photography exhibition that featured footage of the 2019 protests, citing security concerns.
And M +, a multi-million dollar contemporary art museum slated to open soon, said it will allow security officials to check its collection for any breaches of security laws before it opens to the public later. this year.