Hong Kong’s government announced Friday it will begin censoring films screened in Hong Kong for content interpreted as violating the city’s national security law, imposed illegitimately on Hong Kong by China’s ruling Communist Party last June and creating four new crimes — secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces.
The Hong Kong government issued a statement June 11 revealing that it expanded a pre-existing Film Censorship Ordinance to include “any act or activity which may amount to an offence endangering national security [sic].”
“When considering a film as a whole and its effect on the viewers, the censor should have regard to his duties to prevent and suppress acts or activities endangering national security,” the updated ordinance, which was effective immediately as of June 11, stated.
The new guidelines additionally cite “the common responsibility of the people of Hong Kong to safeguard the sovereignty, unification and territorial integrity of the People’s Republic of China.”
Hong Kong previously enjoyed limited civil liberties and a semi-autonomous government under terms agreed to by Beijing following the city’s return to Chinese rule from Britain in 1997 post-colonial rule. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s rubber-stamp parliament extinguished Hong Kong’s limited freedoms in May 2020 when it passed sweeping new legislation under a “National Security Law” designed to curb a pro-democracy protest movement that challenged pro-China elements within Hong Kong’s government for a full year prior. The law went into effect in Hong Kong on June 30, 2020, creating four new crimes: secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces.
“For the four offences, ‘serious’ cases will generally attract penalties of at least 10 years and up to life imprisonment. Regular cases will attract penalties of a minimum of three years behind bars and a maximum of 10 years [sic],” the Hong Kong Free Press reported shortly after the national security law took effect last summer.
Hong Kong’s new film censorship ordinance threatens to block the distribution of both foreign and domestically produced films on national security grounds. Any content within a film deemed “objectively and reasonably capable of being perceived as endorsing, supporting, promoting, glorifying, encouraging or inciting” the endangerment of Hong Kong’s national security disqualifies the film from exhibition in Hong Kong.