Hong Kong Government Now Directly Censoring Films In Hopes Of Shutting Down Protest-Related Documentaries

from the PUT-ON-A-HAPPY-FACE dept

The Chinese-run Hong Kong government is still finding more ways to suppress criticism. A new, very broad national security law pretty much criminalized protests or criticism of the Chinese government’s long list of intrusions and impositions into Hong Kong’s self-governance. The law allowed the regular police to become the internet police and the police state to become official with the appointment of law enforcement officials to prominent national security oversight positions.

Silencing journalists and critics was only the beginning. There are several ways the government can be criticized but those options are drying up. Rules were imposed that shut down art displays in Hong Kong, targeting anything the government felt might be “endangering national security” — a phrase that means anything critical of the Chinese government or its appointees in the Hong Kong government.

This form of censorship has been expanded to cover other creative expressions not previously directly targeted by the national security law.

Hong Kong’s legislature passed a new film censorship law on Wednesday to “safeguard national security,” though critics say it will dampen creativity in its world famous movie industry and further reduce freedoms in the former British colony.

This law gives Hong Kong’s chief secretary the ability to revoke film licenses if the works offend the Chinese government. It also subjects violators to HK$1 million fines and up to three years in prison. This is going to cause problems for Hong Kong’s film industry, which now must engage in self-censorship under the threat of imprisonment.

But the primary target of the new law isn’t Hong Kong’s commercial filmmakers. It’s the documentarians who have covered long-running protests of the Chinese government’s intrusions.

The biggest impact of the new censorship law, several say, will be on Hong Kong’s status as an international film hub and the city’s rich catalogue of lauded, thoughtful and often political films. Last week’s law allows Hong Kong’s security chief, John Lee Ka-chiu, to ban the screening of existing films if he determines they threaten national security. The one most often cited as a likely target is the 2015 film 10 Years, a dystopian and rather prophetic imagining of Hong Kong’s future, but there are many others.

“We have so many films critical of governments, especially from before 1997 when we were still a colony of Britain,” says the Inside the Red Brick Wall film-maker.

Unfortunately, the new law doesn’t really change much for those documenting protests and other anti-government activities. The targeting of other forms of art earlier in the year made it clear filmmakers would next be subjected to the ever-expanding national security law. Most filmmakers covering anti-government activities have already gone underground, working anonymously to document the always-getting-worse state of affairs in Hong Kong. Others have left the country entirely, realizing the situation is unlikely to ever improve.

Censorship like this may serve the purpose of allowing the government to continue getting worse without having to physically observe unhappy constituents expressing their displeasure through protests, creative works, or online comments. But it doesn’t actually make anyone like the government. It just forces them to hide their hatred a bit better. Some governments might find this act counterproductive, as it only creates more well-hidden enemies. But once a country decides it’s going to engage in this level of censorship, it has also decided it doesn’t need to answer to anyone, least of all the people who are now just doing time in the Hong Kong wing of the Chinese police state.

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Comments on “Hong Kong Government Now Directly Censoring Films In Hopes Of Shutting Down Protest-Related Documentaries”

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Rocky says:

Re: Whooosh....

Hong Kong is China. It was literally stolen under force by the British so they could deal Opium to China. Once back in China’s hands, they can do literally whatever they want with it.

And what the frak has that to do with someone criticizing what China is doing?

Do you take into account China’s opinion of how America treats minorities?

And what the frak has that to do with someone criticizing what China is doing?

What is the "legal" issue?

It’s not a legal issue, it’s the systematic censorship and suppression of anything or anyone criticizing China by instituting draconic laws.

Boy, you sure did score big on that strawman fire-sale.

Jeroen Hellingman (profile) says:

Re: Re: Whooosh....

Agree with your first two points rebutting the china-troll.

But there is a legal issue: China is willfully violating an international treaty it made with the United Kingdom about the return of Hong Kong. We may not have the military clout or will to do something about it, but it should be a strong reminder of China’s commitment to international law and our willingness to be dependent on such a country’s for essential supplies. The current developments in China increasing reveal the hidden costs of "cheap" Chinese products.

Tanner Andrews (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Whooosh....

China is willfully violating an international treaty it made with the United Kingdom about the return of Hong Kong

Nobody took that treaty seriously or expected Red China to abide by it. It was provided as a face saving method for the brits on their way out, because it was just too embarrassing to say “Well, our 99 years is up, does the landlord want to renew the lease?”.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Whooosh....

"China is willfully violating an international treaty it made with the United Kingdom about the return of Hong Kong."

As Tanner Andrews had it, the time stamps on the sino-british treaty might as well have been written in disappearing ink. Everyone knew this. At least one british attache at the time spent his time desperately trying to warn HK residents. The "one nation, two systems" thing has worked only insofar as that China respects it as long as the territory under ‘alternative’ system doesn’t do a single thing contrary to Beijing’s wishes.

The british signed that treaty as a face-saving exercise because they did not fancy having to fight a land war in China.

"The current developments in China increasing reveal the hidden costs of "cheap" Chinese products."

Nothing "cheap" about Chinese products. That was way back when. these days manufacturing is done in China because western corporations have managed to abolish their nations skill pool required for at scale manufacturing over these last decades.

If the US, for instance, tried to bring its industries back from China the economy would tank for somewhere upwards of thirty years while they were playing catch-up. No western nation will voluntarily go through that and so China has a lot of leeway before they hit the border where the west decides it needs to start imposing sanctions on its business.

And we have only ourselves to blame. The current hostage situation of every western market and industry being beholden to chinese goodwill is the result decades of western corporations falling over themselves trying to rid themselves of the inconvenience of owning factories. The market has spoken and what it said is ; "China 0wns U all n4o, l0s3rs"

ECA (profile) says:

Re: And?>

When HK went back to China ownership, they gave a contract that it could do things as usual, with abit of protection.
AS HK, is a major money pit for China and its workers.
IF’ HK MOVED, and all those trade groups went someplace else. You would loose IMO, over 1 billion jobs.
Those JOBS keep people busy, keep them in line, keep them focused doing other things.
Its a Bee hive of people with abit of freedom. NOT much, just abit more then the rest of the nation.

I hope you understand that 1 billion. That is the wage earner, thats feeding 3-5 others. And where in China are over 1/2 of the jobs? On the COAST LINE. Making things For HK to be sent around the world.
Go ahead, and upset most of your nation, and get HK to leave. Go for it.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: And?>

"It was literally stolen under force by the British so they could deal Opium to China"

Then given back under the agreement made, after which the people born and raised under British rule didn’t magically become culturally Chinese people that nobody outside of mainland China cares about. This is about the people, not whoever decides they rule a patch of land at any specific time in history.

"Once back in China’s hands, they can do literally whatever they want with it."

…and people can look at what they’re doing and give their opinion about it. Unlike Hong Kong citizens, we still have freedom to speak our mind, even if you don’t like it.

Does this level of freedom scare you, or do you prefer that people are forced to remain silent let they offend someone?

"What is the "legal" issue?"

Does there need to be one for people to have an opinion about whether something is correct in other ways? In fact, the problem here might well be that there is no legal issue…

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: And?>

"Hong Kong is China. It was literally stolen under force by the British so they could deal Opium to China."

Oh, look. A strawman argument!

Yes on both assertions, none of which is relevant to criticism of government censorship. I guess we should be flattered pro-china trolls have found their way here?

"Do you take into account China’s opinion of how America treats minorities? "

Plenty to be said about how the US treats minorities. That’s wrong too. Meanwhile I’d advise you to inform your handlers that even small children are routinely taught to recognize the inherent dishonesty in the argument of "But <insert bully name> did it, that must mean it’s OK!!"

The one and only thing your argument showed was that you are a troll arguing in bad faith.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: And?>

The British should never have turned Hong Kong over to the CCP regime.

They made a legal agreement with the government of China, as it existed at the time. The CCP was never a party to this agreement, and thus the British had no obligation to fulfill the agreement to them.

If anything, the British should have handed Hong Kong over to the government that operates as the continuation of the legitimate Chinese government with whom they actually made the agreement: the modern-day government of Taiwan.

Rocky says:

Re: Re: And?>

If they had actually done that, I do wonder how China would have reacted. The British would have in one swell swoop stopped China from getting Hong Kong while at the same time acknowledged and legitimized Taiwan as the true government of China. War? Invasion of Hong Kong? Who knows, but the reaction would have been very very powerful.

One thing I do know for sure, if they had done it we would live in a very different world today.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: And?>

"If they had actually done that, I do wonder how China would have reacted."

There would be a land war. Chinese nationalism has been surging ever since they clawed themselves out of third world status. Britain’s odds at projecting force that distance sufficient to match the chinese forces without the conflict spilling way outside just HK were…not good.

"Who knows, but the reaction would have been very very powerful."

World wars usually are. It would end with a war of attrition China would eventually win – with the bonus of being able to raise yet another generation to stories on how the greedy western barbarians can’t wait to storm in and oppress the people of Hua Xia…and being able to parade hundreds of thousands of grieving widows of soldiers in front of TV cameras, teaching every chinese citizen that what China really needs is another great wall against all things western.

As for Taiwan being the legitimate government of China…no. Not with 1,4 billion mainland chinese saying differently and most of the Taiwan citizenry uninterested in it. That would be literally on par with the colonialist bullshit the UK and the US used to pull in africa and the middle east in the good old imperialist heydays of yore.

"…if they had done it we would live in a very different world today."

We might be living in the world depicted at the end of catch-22 perhaps. I somehow doubt anything would be that much better. My money is on things being far, far worse.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: And?>

"The British should never have turned Hong Kong over to the CCP regime."

The british had a choice. Learn to project sufficient force to wage an interminable land war against China over HK…or save some face and sign it over.

"If anything, the British should have handed Hong Kong over to the government that operates as the continuation of the legitimate Chinese government with whom they actually made the agreement: the modern-day government of Taiwan."

…in which case world war 3 would have started then and there.

Everyone who keeps talking about what the british should or should not have done needs to go back and read up a little history first. And realize that China will go to any length to recover the territories they lost during what they officially call the "century of humiliation".

Yes, the west could have chosen to defend HK. It would have cost millions or possibly billions of dead people before the dust settled. Because it’s likely that at some point one party or the other would be breaking out the nukes. The most likely would be China, should they fail to dislodge the west from chinese soil by conventional force of arms, dropping a nuke right on top of HK.

Anonymous Coward says:

Hong Kong is basically now part of China its days of being a centre of the arts , culture or movies are numbered, its sad because it was the main centre for Asian movie culture apart from Korea
Any artists that wants any freedom of expression will simply leave or look for a new job
China will not allow part of its empire to host art or journalism that will even slightly criticise communism or the government or even host articles that mention free speech and democracy
They are just in the midst of tightening the screws on artistic freedom
Even in the midst of the cold War there were alot of good films and books released in Russia and there was a thriving underground art scene and importation of Western films and books
With all the hi tech cameras and online firewalls it will be hard for any artistic freedom to exist in Hong Kong in the future
Vague laws that like threatening national security
can be used to censor journalists and writers and filmmakers or even send them to prison

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"does this sort of thing remind the world of the pre-start to WWII?"

Not really, no. Poland was never part of Germany, to begin with. And his grand excellency Xi Jin *Pooh Bear" Ping may be a tad on the thin-skinned side for suppressing his likeness to a well-beloved teddy bear with a honey fetish but he’s no Hitler.

No, China doesn’t fit the usual western mold of tyranny. Some 95% of the population is well catered for and consider their government benevolent. And why not? In two generations more than half a billion people were swiftly moved from impoverished to affluent middle class. Education, entrepreneurism, innovation is all encouraged. Today when the world presents scientific and engineering trophies, China more often than not leads the pack.

This is a far cry from nazi germany or soviet russia. China found the way to make oligarchic dictatorial autocracy work – while keeping the majority of the citizenry happy – thousands of years ago and have stayed with that same formula ever since.

"…and the world is sitting around, thumb up ass, brain in neutral, doing absolutely nothing!"

Because cynical as it may be political analysts all over the world know that China will go to any length recovering the territories wrested from it under the century of humiliation, will go to any length to suppress anti-chinese sentiments in the territories it counts as chinese (like Tibet, Xinjiang and HK), and will go to almost any length to make Taiwan stop calling itself "China".
Beyond that China just builds a wall from which they step not outside nor allow the foreigner entry.

This is the main difference. China is, if anything, clannish and closed. The only thing they want from outside chinas borders is trade. Germany pre-ww2 otoh, was rabidly expansionist and had the dream of conquering the whole world.

"…and Xi Jinping secures another term, with even more power!"

After a brief stint of trying to be rid of the imperial figurehead as a necessary symbol of government now it’s all back to normal. All hail the Son of Heaven, his august excellence emperor Xi.

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