The legislature of Hong Kong passed a new law allowing censorship of certain films in the most recent move to infringe upon the liberties of people in the region.
As reported by the BBC:
The film censorship law was approved in the opposition-free Legislative Council. It gives the chief secretary – the second-most powerful figure in the city’s administration – the power to revoke a film’s licence if it is found to “endorse, support, glorify, encourage and incite activities that might endanger national security”.
Reuters reported, “[p]unishment for violating the law included up to three years imprisonment and fines of up to HK$1 million ($128,400).”
“The goal is very clear: it’s to improve the film censorship system, to prevent any act endangering the national security,” Commerce Secretary Edward Yau reportedly told the Legislative Council.
The move appears to match a trend of increasingly strict crackdowns on the freedoms of the people of Hong Kong.
Reuters added, “This year, for the first time since 1969, the Oscars were not broadcasted in Hong Kong, matching decisions in mainland China, despite an unprecedented nomination for a Hong Kong-born director.”
The Hollywood Reporter noted that the law is a huge hit to the area that was once a flourishing filmmaking spot.
“The new film rules in Hong Kong will have a chilling effect,” Joe Piscatella told The Hollywood Reporter earlier this year as censorship policy in Hong Kong was discussed. “One of the last vestiges of free speech in Hong Kong is now gone. The result is self-censorship by filmmakers who now have to question what might run afoul of the new rules and increased scrutiny by financiers and distributors who now must consider that very same question.”
The move comes after China pushed its new national security law on Hong Kong last year in order to crush any attempts to speak out against the oppressive government.
According to Amnesty International, the 2020 national security law is especially restrictive and unclear. Among other concerns, “[u]nder this new law ‘secession’, ‘subversion’, ‘terrorism’ and ‘collusion with foreign forces’ incur maximum penalties of life imprisonment,” the group reported.
“The Chinese Communist Party passed the Hong Kong National Security Law on June 30 of last year; the statute, according to the Biden administration, increases penalties for ‘secession’ and ‘subversion.’ Despite massive protests that attracted international attention, the law gutted civil liberties for residents of Hong Kong,” per The Daily Wire.
A man in Hong Kong was sentenced to nine years in prison in July in the first ruling under the new national security law.
During protests last year, Tong Ying-kit, the 24-year-old man, crashed a motorcycle into a group of police officers while he was holding a flag with the message, “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Times.”
Amnesty International also recently announced it will be shutting down its offices in Hong Kong by the close of the year, citing concerns over the new national security law.
“This decision, made with a heavy heart, has been driven by Hong Kong’s national security law, which has made it effectively impossible for human rights organizations in Hong Kong to work freely and without fear of serious reprisals from the government,” said Anjhula Mya Singh Bais, chair of Amnesty’s International Board.