World Hong Kong passes new film censorship law to 'safeguard national security'
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"It is a vain attempt to stigmatize Hong Kong, stigmatize China, and stop at nothing to undermine Hong Kong through petty actions," the Foreign Ministry said.The safe haven offer is the latest by Biden's administration in response to Beijing's crackdown on Hong Kong. Meanwhile, Beijing has suspended an extradition treaty with Hong Kong and other special treatment not extended to the rest of China. It also imposed visa bans on Hong Kong and Chinese officials and cutting them off from the U.S. financial system.
LOS ANGELES —legislators on Wednesday approved an amended law that will allow film censorship on the basis of considerations. It does not cover the online screening of movies, though a government minister described that omission as a “loophole.”
The revision to the law is the latest operation to tighten the government grip on civil society, artistic and speech freedoms in the country.
The city’s legislative council — in which there are no opposing forces — amended the Film Censorship Bill by a show of hands to give movie censors the task of vetting content for violations of a draconian national security law written and imposed by Beijing in July 2020.
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"Given the politically motivated arrests and trialswe will continue to take steps in support of people in Hong Kong," a White House statement reads.President Joe Biden signed a memorandum Thursday for deferred enforced departure of certain Hong Kong residents currently in the United States who were fleeing from China.
Thebans anything that is deemed to be or incite secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. Under the film censorship amendment, violators screening unauthorized films may face punishments including fines up to $129,000 (HK$1 million) and three years in prison.
Significantly, the amended law gives authorities retrospective powers. Movies that have previously received release approval can now be blocked if they are considered to be glorifying or supporting acts that could endanger national security.
Authorities may search any venue screening a movie without warrant, including company offices or private clubs. Censorship authorities are now free to request more information about particular screenings.
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At the legislative meeting, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah made it clear that the new law, while making reference to video, does not apply to online distribution.
“We hope the bill will commence as soon as possible, to enhance the film censorship system and to plug the loopholes,” he told the council. “If we are to add online regulation, it’d go beyond the original intent of the ordinance, not to mention the technological and enforcement considerations.”
Foreign streaming companies likeand are currently available to viewers in Hong Kong, which has traditionally had greater internet freedoms than mainland . They are off limits in mainland China, which operates one of the world’s strictest censorship regimes.
In Hong Kong, the streamers have been able to host, and in some cases produce, content offensive to Beijing such as the Netflix original “Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower,” a documentary about a democracy activist.
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adopted in June 2020, the National Security Act has radically transformed the political, cultural and legal landscape of the territory © Mark Schiefelbein / PA / SIPA during a manifestation in Hong Kong, October 15, 2019.
Yau sought to reassure that most movies will not be affected by the new rules. “Our objective is simple and direct — it is to improve our film censorship system and effectively prevent and suppress any act that would endanger national security,” he said.
The Chinese state press widely reported a quote from pro-establishment lawmaker Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, who said she stood against films like 2015 omnibus movie “Ten Years,” a searing envisioning of Hong Kong’s future under Chinese control made years before its current, eerily similar political moment. “Ten Years” is currently available on Netflix in Hong Kong.
The film shouldn’t be shown, Leung said, because “no society in the world welcome forces that encourage young people to break the law, harbor hatred against their own countries and embrace terrorism.”
“It is a treacherous climate for businesses having to make content decisions,” Darrell West, senior fellow at the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution, told Bloomberg.
China lashes out at press freedom survey in Hong Kong .
HONG KONG (AP) — China on Friday criticized a press freedom survey from the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents’ Club that found nearly half its members were considering leaving the city. The survey said the members were concerned about a decline in press freedoms under a sweeping national security law imposed by Beijing following massive anti-government protests in 2019. Eighty-three of the 99 journalists polled said that the working environment had “changed for the worse” since the law was introduced last June.