The #NSL tentacle in #HongKong has extended to the film industry, as the government issued new guidelines that allow authorities to censor films on the basis of safeguarding national security.
The new amendments to the Film Censorship Ordinance instruct the Film Censorship Authority to be “vigilant” against the depiction of “any act or activity which may amount to an offence endangering national security” in vetting whether films are appropriate for public screening.
A film which is “objectively and reasonably capable of being perceived as endorsing, supporting, promoting, glorifying, encouraging or inciting such act or activity” may also be censored under the new guidelines.
“[H]aving regard to the fundamental importance of safeguarding national security and to effectively prevent or suppress any act or activity endangering national security, the censor may come to the opinion that a film is not suitable for exhibition,” the guidelines read.
Hong Kong’s national security law, criminalising subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts, was imposed following months of pro-democracy protests and unrest. Democrats and rights groups have criticised the law as vaguely-worded and an encroachment of civic liberties.
Announcing the enforcement of the new guidelines on Friday, the government said that freedom of expression must be balanced with the “the protection of legitimate societal interests.”
“Although fundamental rights (including the right to freedom of expression in the exhibition of films) should be respected, the exercise of such rights are subject to restrictions provided by law that are necessary for pursuing legitimate aims, such as respecting the rights or reputation of others, and the protection of national security or public order, or public health or morals,” a government spokesperson said.