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Hong Kong: Disney+ drops Simpsons episode mentioning 'forced labor'

Hong Kong: Disney+ drops Simpsons episode mentioning “forced labor


An episode of the 'Simpsons' cartoon that references 'forced labor camps' in China can't be found on the Disney+ streaming service in Hong Kong, where art production is under fire growing censorship. 

Hong Kong once boasted significant artistic and cultural freedoms compared to mainland China of which it is a special administrative region.

But since the 2019 protests, authorities have cracked down on dissent in the financial hub, including tightening film censorship.

The second episode of the American cartoon's 34th season featured the line: “Contemplate the wonders of China. Bitcoin mines, forced labor camps where children make smartphones, and romance.”

“One Angry Lisa,” which first aired on the platform last October, could not be viewed on Disney+ using a Hong Kong connection but is available elsewhere, AFP confirmed.

< p>This is the second time in three years that the Hong Kong version of the streaming service has dropped an episode of The Simpsons satirizing China.

The previously censored episode showed The Simpsons visiting the Tiananmen Square in Beijing – the site of the deadly 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters – and finding a sign there that reads, “At this site, in 1989, nothing happened”.

Contacted by AFP, the Hong Kong government and Disney did not immediately comment. 

Censorship Law

In 2021, Hong Kong passed censorship laws banning shows that might violate a sweeping national security law that Beijing imposed on the city.

Since then, directors have had to cut parts of their films, while other productions were banned from broadcasting.

A Taiwanese documentary about female migrant workers was pulled from the lineup of a Hong Kong film festival in October after its producers refused to remove a scene depicting a protest.

The same month , a screening of the Batman franchise film 'The Dark Knight' was also canceled after censors deemed the 'level of violence inappropriate' and denied that the decision was politically motivated.  

The censorship law does not cover streaming services, but authorities have warned that video-on-demand platforms are nonetheless subject to the national security law which concerns crimes of subversion, secession, terrorism and of collusion with foreign forces.

In recent years, Hollywood has been accused of pandering to China's censorship regime to profit from this multi-billion dollar market.

In 2020 , Disney has been criticized for filming the remake of Mulan in the Xinjiang region (far west), with local government agencies thanked in the credits. 

Beijing has long denied accusations of torture and forced labor in Xinjiang, but a recent United Nations report found the allegations credible.

Human rights groups say more than a million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities are detained in what, according to the Department of É American state and others, amounts to genocide. 

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