The Hong Kong government announced Friday that it will begin censoring films shown in the city for content interpreted as violating the city’s national security law, which was imposed illegitimately on Hong Kong by China’s ruling Communist Party last June and created four new crimes: secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces. The Hong Kong government announced on June 11 that it had enlarged a previously existing Film Censorship Ordinance to encompass “any act or conduct which may amount to an infraction affecting national security.”
“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 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 historically enjoyed limited civil freedoms and a semi-autonomous administration under terms agreed to by Beijing following the city’s post-colonial reversion to Chinese administration from Britain in 1997. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s parliament extinguished Hong Kong’s limited freedoms in May 2020, when it passed sweeping new legislation under a “National Security Law” designed to quell a pro-democracy protest movement that had challenged pro-China elements within Hong Kong’s government for a full year. On June 30, 2020, the law went into effect in Hong Kong, creating four new crimes: secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces.
On national security concerns, Hong Kong’s new film censorship act threatens to halt the distribution of both foreign and domestically made films. Any content in a film that is judged “objectively and rationally capable of being construed as condoning, supporting, promoting, glorifying, encouraging, or inciting” the endangerment of Hong Kong’s national security is ineligible for Hong Kong exhibition.