A new controversial bill will soon be debated in the Legislative Council of Hong Kong. It punishes anyone who shows films or television programs that encourage dissent.
Broadcasters could be jailed for up to three years and fined $128,000, for publicly transmitting content that contradicts the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) so-called “national security.”
Hong Kong officials will amend existing Film Censorship Ordinance to further censor broadcast content across the island. The offence will be called “subversion, secession and terrorism,” according to the Associated Press.
BL understands the term “contrary to national security” is very broad, and open for interpretation. The CCP often uses it as an excuse to repress ideals, religions, political dissidents, and anyone who opposes the communist regime.
If amended, the ordinance would also grant the general secretary greater powers to ban previously approved productions and upcoming projects that potentially pose a “threat” to national security.
“The amendments this time are simple and straightforward,” Hong Kong Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau said according to the South China Morning Post. “The aim is to consolidate our legal foundation regarding film censorship to prevent acts against national security.”
Theater and movie rental business owners are concerned the ordinance amendment will affect their livelihood. This is because the bill prevents screening several Western and Asian cinema classics.
Specialists, producers and commentators have complained about the industry wide ramifications of these reforms. Restricting creativity and freedom of expression will also damage Hong Kong’s reputation as “Hollywood of the Far East.”
Beijing separately enacted a controversial National Security Law to crack down on pro-democracy and anti-CCP protests. BL understands the CCP used this legislation to infiltrate all parts of daily life in Hong Kong. It achieved this through imposing strict rules on education, health, and political institutions. The amended ordinance adds film and entertainment to this growing list.
Thousands of Hong Kong citizens have been detained since Beijing imposed the law. Many chose to leave the island out of fear of communist reprisal. Hong Kong public data confirms the island’s population dropped 1.2 percent in the past 12 months.
The CCP’s control and repression of fundamental freedoms through the law are blamed for causing the exodus, according to the paper.