National security laws are omnipresent Hong Kong to strengthen film censorship

After Beijing pushed through the National Security Law in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong authorities amended the film censorship regulations in accordance with the implementation requirements of the National Security Law to include “may constitute a crime against national security” as one of the criteria for film content censorship. In the future, if a film censorship finds content that “endangers national security,” the film may not be released because it cannot pass the censorship.

AFP reported the news as the latest blow to the “political and artistic freedom” of Hong Kong’s international financial center. AFP said the authorities have been doing all they can to crack down and suppress Beijing’s critics after massive, and often violent, pro-democracy protests broke out in Hong Kong in 2019.

Hong Kong authorities published in the Gazette on Friday (June 11) the “Guidelines for Inspectors” of the newly amended Film Censorship Ordinance, stressing that the new amendments are in line with the implementation of Hong Kong’s national security law, which provides for film inspectors to take into account whether a film “endangers national security” when reviewing and classifying films. The new guidelines require censors to consider whether a film is “dangerous to national security” when reviewing and classifying films.

The newly revised censorship guidelines require censors to pay careful attention to the depiction, portrayal or representation of acts or activities that may constitute “crimes against national security” or may otherwise “prejudice the maintenance of national security” in Hong Kong, and that may be objectively and reasonably regarded as endorsing, supporting, or promoting national security. that could objectively and reasonably be perceived as endorsing, supporting, promoting, glorifying, encouraging or inciting such acts or activities.

The new censorship guidelines, which are effective immediately, also require censors to take into account their duty to “prevent and suppress acts or activities that endanger national security” and their shared obligation to preserve the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the country if they find that the film as a whole and its impact on viewers could “endanger national security If it is found that the entire film and its impact on the audience may “endanger national security” or “endanger the maintenance of national security,” the censor should conclude that the film is “unsuitable for release.

In mainland China, films have always been subject to strict political censorship; because of this, very few Western or foreign films are allowed to be released each year. Compared to mainland China, film censorship in Hong Kong has always been lax, and because of this, Hong Kong’s film industry was once very prosperous and developed.

Before the revision of the censorship guidelines, the official film censorship standards did not involve politics, nor did they involve factors such as “sovereignty” or “national security”. The previous regulations only covered the censorship of films that contained violence, crime, terrorism, race, ethnic origin, religious beliefs, and indecent content.

But with the implementation of the Hong Kong version of the national security law, the Hong Kong authorities’ control over culture, film and art seems to be clearly on par with that of mainland China.

Two weeks ago, officers from the Hong Kong Food and Environmental Hygiene Department suddenly showed up at the June 4 Memorial Hall hosted by the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, accusing it of allegedly violating the Entertainment Venue Ordinance and forcing the association to temporarily close the hall, which has been open for three years.

In March, an award-winning documentary on the mass protests in Hong Kong was cancelled hours before its premiere after a pro-Beijing newspaper criticized the screening for several days, also on the grounds that its content “violated national security laws.

Earlier this year, a university was forced to cancel a prestigious photojournalism exhibition featuring works from the 2019 protests, citing “security concerns.

The soon-to-open M+ Museum of Contemporary Art in Hong Kong has said it will allow government security personnel to inspect its collection of exhibits for “violations of national security laws” before it opens.

A government spokeswoman said the film inspection would attempt to “strike a balance between protecting individual rights and freedoms and safeguarding legitimate community interests.