Hong Kong authorities have proposed a series of law changes to scrutinise previously approved films and new productions which it deems threats to national security.
The city’s government announced today to amend the Film Censorship Ordinance, which requires censors to assess a product’s impact on national security before offering their endorsement.
The new arrangement will also empower the chief secretary – the city’s number two official – to ban films that breached the national security law, even if films had previously been given the green light.
“Any film for public exhibition, past, present and future, will need to get approval,” said Edward Yau, Hong Kong’s secretary of commerce and economic development.
The new censorship is the latest move of Beijing’s sweeping crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong. Last year, Beijing imposed the national security law on the city, criminalising what China considers subversion, secession, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces.
The maximum penalty of unauthorised screenings will be increased to 3 years in jail and a HK$1m fine.
Films deemed a national security risk by censors will not be able to appeal through the usual channel. Instead, they will have to file a judicial review in courts.
The amendments need to be approved by the city’s legislative council, dominated by pro-establishment lawmakers.
The announcement of film censorship came as Hollywood star Nicole Kidman is filming the new Amazon Prime Video series Expats in the city.
Hong Kong authorities granted the Australian actress and four crew members to skip mandatory Covid quarantine, saying the exemption was to maintain the necessary operation and development of Hong Kong’s economy.
But the decision soon sparked anger across the city as Kidman was spotted shopping in a boutique after her arrival. A minister later defended Kidman’s trip as part of “costume fitting”.