© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A man wears protective mask as he watches a movie, following the outbreak of the new coronavirus, in Hong Kong, China February 10, 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
By Jessie Pang
HONG KONG (Reuters) – The Hong Kong government on Friday enacted new guidelines that allow authorities to censor films on the basis of safeguarding national security, escalating concerns over freedoms in the former British colony.
The government said the changes that give the film censor authority to ban films perceived as promoting or glorifying acts or activities that could endanger national security take effect from Friday.
The Film Censorship Authority should stay “vigilant to the portrayal, depiction or treatment of any act or activity which may amount to an offence endangering national security”, the government said in a statement.
“Any content of a film which is objectively and reasonably capable of being perceived as endorsing, supporting, promoting, such act or activity” will be censored, according to the guideline.
Beijing imposed a national security law on Hong Kong in June that punishes what authorities broadly define as secession, sedition and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in jail, following a year of sometimes violent pro-democracy demonstrations.
Western governments and international human rights groups have expressed concern the security law will crush freedoms in Hong Kong.
A filmmaker surnamed Tang said the amendment would legitimise a crackdown on protest-related films and create a chilling effect on the movie industry.
“Movies on social issues will be banned. It will silence the filmmakers,” Tang said.
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