An episode of The Simpsons in which the American family of the cartoon visits Tiananmen Square is absent from the Disney streaming channel in Hong Kong, at a time when the authorities are cracking down on dissent.
The missing episode adds to concerns that continental-style censorship is becoming the norm in the international business hub, trapping global streaming giants and other big tech companies.
The Hong Kong version of Disney + started airing this month, and customers quickly noticed that an episode of The Simpsons featuring China was missing.
Episode 12 of Season 16, which first aired in 2005, features the family traveling to China to try to adopt a baby. They also visit Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, the site of a deadly crackdown on democracy protesters in 1989.
In the cartoon, there is a sign in the plaza that says “On this site, in 1989, nothing happened”, a satirical nod to the Chinese countryside to purge the memories of this. that happened.
It’s not clear if Disney + deleted the episode or was ordered by authorities.
The entertainment giant did not respond to requests for comment, nor did the Hong Kong government.
When Disney + ‘s Hong Kong channel checked on Monday, Season 16 episodes 11 and 13 were available but not 12.
Until recently, Hong Kong enjoyed significant artistic and political freedoms from the mainland. But authorities are transforming the city following huge and often violent protests for democracy two years ago.
Among the many measures, new censorship laws introduced this summer ban any broadcasts that could violate a broad national security law imposed by China on the city last year.
Censors have since ordered directors to make cuts and have refused permission to show certain films to the public.
Last week, Beijing-appointed Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam pledged to “proactively patch loopholes” in the city’s internet and introduce “fake news” regulations.
His comments added to concerns that China’s “great firewall” – a sprawling Internet and news censorship regime – could be extended to Hong Kong.
The content that satirizes China is still available on other streaming platforms in Hong Kong.
Netflix’s Hong Kong channel is currently broadcasting Band in China, an episode of the South Park cartoon series.
In this episode, one of the characters ends up in a Chinese labor camp and much of the series denounces the willingness of American brands to adhere to Chinese censorship rules in order to make money.