Hong Kong to start censoring films over "national security"

(AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

The pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong already had one foot in the grave, but the Chinese Communist Party clearly feels that this is one dead horse that requires some additional beating. Yet another new law is being introduced in the city’s legislature next week to allow for the review and censorship of any new films being produced. As with everything else these days, the film censorship law is being enacted to “safeguard national security.” As you probably recall, the National Security Law enacted two years ago has been used as the excuse to clamp down on anyone talking about freedom, democracy, or anything else that China doesn’t approve of. Many people have already been arrested and jailed under the new law with the first few people having been convicted and imprisoned this summer. Now filmmakers will be facing a similar fate if they produce any work that isn’t flattering to the CCP. (Reuters)

Hong Kong said on Tuesday new film censorship legislation will be introduced to “safeguard national security”, in another sign of shrinking freedoms in the former British colony.

China introduced a sweeping national security law in June last year to crack down on what it deems subversion, secessionism, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, following months of sometimes violent pro-democracy protests in 2019.

The new “film censorship” amendment bill will help enhance the regulatory framework, the government said in a statement, with a view to “ensuring more effective fulfillment of the duty to safeguard national security”.

The announcement is rather vague, but they will be squelching any films that depict “acts or activities which might endorse, support, glorify, encourage and incite such activities that might endanger national security.” As with anything else coming out of Beijing, the phrase “national security” is just being used as a catch-all. You’ll never know what might wind up being viewed as a violation until the police are knocking on your door, at which point it’s too late.

Those found to be in violation will be subject to the revocation of their license, fines amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars, and up to three years in prison. As with all of the other new “national security” laws, the accused will not be given the option of a trial before a jury of their peers. The case will be heard by a panel of judges approved by Hong Kong Chief Executive (and Beijing puppet) Carrie Lam. In other words, once you’ve been accused, you should probably start packing for jail.

The idea of “national security” has been rendered meaningless in Hong Kong. We’ve seen instances in the United States of the government and the military overclassifying things to keep secrets under the same guise, but nothing on the level that’s being witnessed in Carrie Lam’s city now. Speaking to western media outlets is considered to be consorting with the enemy. Criticizing the ruling class or the Chinese government is treason and a case of “damaging national security.” Neighbors are rewarded for turning each other in. It’s like something out of a dystopian movie except it’s happening right before our eyes.

China made a commitment to leave Hong Kong’s system of government largely unmolested for at least fifty years when they took over control from the British. Their promises are obviously just about as good as those of the Taliban. The government of Hong Kong has been reduced to a theater and little more. It’s a wonder that China has already just eliminated it entirely. Put a pin in that idea because I’m guessing we’ll be revisiting it before very long.