In yet another assault on the democratic ethos of Hong Kong, new government guidelines have been enforced to allow city authorities to censor films on the basis of safeguarding national security.
The censorship rules announced on Friday allow censors to pull films they deem to be a violation of the national security law, which is being seen as the latest curb on freedom of expression in the Asian financial hub.
According to Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP), 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.
Under the new guidelines, a film that is "objectively and reasonably capable of being perceived as endorsing, supporting, promoting, glorifying, encouraging or inciting such act or activity" may also be censored.
"[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.
It also instructs censorship authorities to censor films that "would likely constitute an offense endangering national security".
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong authorities said that freedom of expression must be balanced with "the protection of legitimate societal interests".
This new guideline comes as China has passed a wide-ranging new security law for Hong Kong which makes it easier to punish protesters in a bid to reduce the city's autonomy.
City's national security law, criminalising subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts, was imposed following months of pro-democracy protests, HKFP reported.
China's recent steps have raised concerns that Beijing might be rejecting the 'one country two systems' made to Hong Kong in 1997. Several countries have condemned Beijing's move to overhaul Hong Kong's electoral system. (ANI)