Hong Kong has passed new laws that allow the government to censor even old movies for any content against “national interest”.
Since the pro-democracy protests by civilians first rocked Hong Kong two years ago, the city-state has been in turmoil. The protests, that began against the growing influence of mainland China over Hong Kong, have largely been suppressed. Pro-Hong Kong lawmakers in the legislature and administrative bodies have been replaced by pro-Beijing ones. Furthermore, more and more laws have been introduced to suppress the rights of civilians – all in the name of national interest.
Art and entertainment have been the special targets of the new campaign, dubbed “Patriots rule Hong Kong”. New security laws aim to censor all forms of art that tend to go against or criticize the Chinese government. In June, the city’s government introduced a law that would check all future films for any content that breached the said security laws.
But now, even old movies are not free from this censorship. Hong Kong’s legislative body – which is now composed of entirely pro-Beijing members – passed a law that makes the display and viewing of any such film a punishable offense. The guilty parties could face up to three years in prison or a fine of $130,000. The government officials reserve the right to storm into any premise to check for viewing or possession of such films.
It also seems that digital streaming content, like Netflix and Amazon, would also be subject to this censorship. In the past, Hong Kong cinema was one of the most famous film industries in the world. It was particularly known for its action-comedy films. The new law can affect many of these iconic movies. With this law and the one passed in June, the country’s film industry closely resembles its counterpart from mainland China.