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Hong Kong to censor films ‘endangering national security’

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HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong censors now have the power to ban films that endanger national security, prompting concerns that freedom of expression is being further curtailed in a city once known for its vibrant arts and film scene.

Authorities are cracking down on criticism of Chinese Communist Party rule, arresting many pro-democracy activists in the city and implementing a sweeping national security law last year that criminalizes actions such as the calls for independence during months of anti-government protests in 2019.

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The Hong Kong government announced Friday that it has amended the guidelines for censors in the city’s Film Censorship Ordinance to include vigilance against any “portrayal, depiction or treatment of any act or activity which may amount to an offense endangering national security.”

Censors have the power to deem films unsuitable for exhibition to “prevent or suppress any act or activity endangering national security,” it said in a statement.

“The film censorship regulatory framework is built on the premise of a balance between protection of individual rights and freedoms on the one hand, and the protection of legitimate societal interests on the other,” the government said.

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The amended ordinance takes Hong Kong a step closer to the censorship of films on the Chinese mainland, which are closely vetted for themes and scenes critical of the Communist Party’s leadership or that do not align with values that the government seeks to espouse.

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