Hong Kong 🇭🇰 is one of the two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China, the other being Macao. It has been a Special Administrative Region since July 1, 1997; it was the last remaining significant British colony.

Since the handover to China, Hong Kong has been granted relative legal, economic, and political autonomy under the one country, two systems policy.

General censorship[]

Since the national security law, press freedom in Hong Kong has deteriorated. It is illegal to use or say the slogan "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times" (光復香港,時代革命) anywhere in Hong Kong because of the national security law.

Because of the national security law, Hong Kong suffered one of the greatest declines in press freedom, falling 68 places in one year to 148th in 2022 compared to 80th last year in Reporters Without Borders' Press Freedom Index.

Book censorship[]

  • South China Morning Post - Since Robert Kuok acquired this newspaper in 1993, there have been concerns over the forced departures, in rapid succession, of several staff and contributors who were considered critical of China or its supporters in Hong Kong. Before the handover, their popular cartoonist Larry Feign, humour columnist Nury Vittachi were dismissed. Since 1997, there have been numerous departures of China-desk staff, namely 2000–01 editorial pages editor Danny Gittings, Beijing correspondent Jasper Becker; China pages editor Willy Lam departed after his reporting had been publicly criticised by Robert Kuok. Gittings complained that he "repeatedly came under pressure to tone down coverage of politically sensitive issues". Editor-in-Chief Wang Xiangwei was criticised for his decision to reduce the paper's coverage of the death of Li Wangyang on 7 June 2012. Wang reportedly reversed the decision to run a full story, and instead published a two-paragraph report inside the paper; other news media reported it prominently. A senior staff member who sought to understand the decision circulated the resulting email exchanges, that indicate he received a stern rebuff from Wang. Wang is mainland-born, and is a member of the Provincial Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Jilin; the paper has since stepped up coverage of the death and aftermath as major news stories. Reporter Paul Mooney, whose contract with the paper was not renewed in May 2012, said that the Li Wangyang story was not an isolated incident.
  • Apple Daily - This liberal newspaper has been under sustained pressure. In 1997, reporters were denied permission to cover a Hong Kong reception organised by the Chinese Foreign Ministry due to their history of criticising China. It has been subjected to advertising boycotts, its reporters have been assaulted, its owner attacked, and its premises fire-bombed. Its support of the Umbrella Revolution earned it unprecedented cyber-attacks; copies of its paper have been spoilt by masked thugs. It suffered a physical blockade which disrupted its logistics for almost one week. On 17 June 2021, its headquarter was raided, the assets were frozen and six executives were arrested. The paper announced its closure on 23 June.
  • Ta Kung Pao - During the Chief Executive elections in 2012, the pro-Beijing Ta Kung Pao dedicated its entire front page on 24 March 2012 to attacking former underground communist Florence Leung, who authored a book in which she alleged CY Leung only became the Secretary General of the Hong Kong Basic Law Consultative Committee in 1985 through having been an underground Communist Party member. Local press avidly reported on efforts of the central government's Liaison Office to rally support behind CY Leung, but said reports have been creating discomfort for officials. Albert Ho relayed complaints he has received about attempts by the Liaison Office to intimidate editors and media bosses. Media widely reported that Richard Li had received calls from CLO propaganda chief Hao Tiechuan dissatisfied at the reporting at his Hong Kong Economic Journal (HKEJ). The Hong Kong Journalists Association, which noted that the HKEJ had received complaints about its coverage from central government's liaison office, and condemned the "open violation" of the one-country two-systems principle. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) confirmed these allegations and expressed its concern. Johnny Lau, who authored a critique of both Henry Tang and CY Leung during the Chief Executive elections for the Sing Pao Daily News, in which he opined that neither Tang nor Leung were worthy of support nor sympathy, saw his piece changed to endorse Leung. Ngai Kai-kwong, editor-in-chief of the journal, who denied censorship or pressure from the liaison office, instead blamed "carelessness" in editing.
  • Ming Pao - In January 2014, Kevin Lau, chief editor of the this liberal newspaper was abruptly replaced by Chong Tien Siong, an inexperienced Singapore-based Malaysian journalist who, according to The Economist, is widely regarded as pro-establishment. As a result of Lau's dismissal, thousands of people attended a protest rally. Lau, known for his tough reporting on China, was brutally stabbed on 26 February by an assailant riding pillion on a motorbike. While the police suspect the attack was carried out by the Wo Shing Wo triad, it is widely believed to have been reprisals for his paper's investigative contribution to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) report on the offshore assets of China's leaders, including relatives of Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping, former Premier Wen Jiabao, and several members of the National People's Congress. The journal came under pressure to downgrade the importance of a report on the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and massacre.
  • Up Publications - In March 2015, this small independent publishing house, complained that it was suddenly and unexpectedly faced with a large and unexplained number of returns from the three main subsidiaries of Beijing-friendly Sino United Publishing. Twenty titles were affected by the returns, to the serious detriment to the finances of Up Publications; many of the titles returned were not politically themed. The publisher was allegedly told by a bookshop source that its stance in the 2014 occupation and its publishing of books supportive of the Umbrella Movement were responsible. Although no reason was given for the returns, two of the delisted books about the occupation were strong sellers at independent bookshops.
  • Mighty Current Publishing - this company that publishes politically sensitive books – those critical of mainland leaders and discloses their personal secrets – and sells them at a bookstore named Causeway Bay Books, was marred by near-simultaneous disappearance in October 2015 of four people linked to it. Two of the men were last seen in Shenzhen, one in Hong Kong, and one was last heard from in Thailand. The news shocked the local publishing industry, and vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China said that it was "hard not to associate the disappearance of the four people with Beijing's suppression of banned books". In December 2015, a fifth member of the company, Lee Bo, also mysteriously vanished. He was last seen at his warehouse in Chai Wan in the early evening, preparing an order he had received for several books. Lee Bo's wife later received a telephone call from him from a telephone number in Shenzhen, uncharacteristically speaking in Mandarin Chinese. The fact that his home return permit was left at home led many fearing that he may have somehow been abducted by the mainland public security bureau and renditioned to Shenzhen. According to Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, the latest disappearance is linked to the imminent publication of a book on the life of Xi Jinping which includes details of his intimate life. Gui Minhai, the first man to disappear, was ostensibly set free on 17 October 2017. On 19 January 2018, Gui was pulled from the train by a group of plainclothes men. In early February, Gui again appeared in a second confession before reporters from pro-establishment news outlets including the South China Morning Post.
  • In 2018, Children's books with LGBTQ themes have been moved to the "closed stacks" of Hong Kong's public libraries due to pressure from anti-gay-rights group. Books written by pro-democracy activists such as Joshua Wong and lawmaker Tanya Chan disappeared a few days after national security law had been imposed in 2020. In 2021, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department confirmed that they have suspended services relating to the nine books, saying the move was to "avoid breaking the law." This time book written by Chinese-American writer and activist Yu Jie and Chinese dissident writer Liao Yiwu were removed. Hong Kong Nationalism written by Undergrad, the editorial board of the Hong Kong University Students’ Union was also no longer available.
  • A series of illustrated Cantonese children’s books about sheep and wolves were seized in Hong Kong, as they were an allegory of the recent political situation in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong officials felt the books were offensive and could cause sedition against the Chinese Communist Party, which the wolves in the books were based on. Also, it is impossible to purchase the books anywhere, even outside of Hong Kong.

Internet censorship[]

In contrast to mainland China, there is relatively little Internet censorship in Hong Kong. Generally, sites that infringe copyright or facilitate copyright infringement are blocked in Hong Kong.

However, this has changed with the national security law. Article 43 of the national security law states online content that is "likely to constitute an offence endangering national security or is likely to cause the occurrence of an offence endangering national security" is illegal, and an individual or group in breach of this could face a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment or a HK$100,000 fine.

Since the commencement of the Hong Kong national security law, the Hong Kong government has blocked access to at least one pro-democracy site.

  • Ichi the Killer - this film had approximately 17 minutes removed for the cut version released in Hong Kong.
  • The Dark Knight - this film was banned in 2022 after a review, despite being partially filmed in Hong Kong and being previously allowed[1].
  • Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey - this film was banned due to Winnie the Pooh being banned in mainland China[2].

Movie censorship[]

Before 1997, HK was subjected to the British film censorship on top of its local censorship as it had a film content rating system distinct from the BBFC's that is still used today. Censors changed their strategy in the 1970s and 80s from suppressing mainland Chinese films representing revolutionary China during the Cold War to inhibiting films that might offend China from screening in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong gives a certification for each film released in the city-state. If a film was given a Category III classification, it may not be shown to persons under 18.

On October 28, 2021, Hong Kong's legislature passed a new law banning films deemed to violate the national security law. Violators could face a penalty of up to three years in prison or a HK$1,000,000 fine.

Television censorship[]

  • TVB - Since 2009, this TV network has drawn criticism on Internet forums for apparent pro-establishment bias. That year, its news department downgraded coverage of the 20th anniversary of the 4 June Incident. The reporting, thought by many internet forum users as an act to gain the favour of the Central Government, was likened to CCTV and earned it the portmanteau "CCTVB". During the 2014 protests, TVB's broadcast of footage of seven police officers beating a protester on 15 October resulted in significant internal conflict during the broadcast. The pre-dawn broadcasts soundtrack which mentioned "punching and kicking" was re-recorded to say that the officers were "suspected of using excessive force". TVB director Keith Yuen questioned what grounds lead the footage to say "officers dragged him to a dark corner, and punched and kicked him"? The assistant supervisor of the news-gathering team responsible for the footage was immediately demoted to Chief Researcher, a post with only a part-time subordinate. Many journalists expressed their dissatisfaction with the handling of the broadcast, and some 80 TVB staff from all departments objecting to the handling sent a petition to management. After several of its reporters were assaulted by activists attending a pro-Beijing rally, over 340 station employees put their names to a petition condemning the violence. A director of production in the non-drama department ordered all petitioners to a meeting with their supervisors, where the employees were asked to remove their signature or jeopardise their year end bonuses. In March 2015, Luk Hon-tak, former director-general of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), became the managing editor of TVB News in charge of political news stories. However, in 2015, the video, entitled "Suspected Police Brutality Against Occupy Central Movement's Protester", was declared the Best TV news item at the 55th Monte Carlo TV Festival; it was praised for its "comprehensive, objective and professional" report. It also won a prize at the Edward E. Murrow Awards in the Hard News category.
  • 7.21 Who Owns the Truth? - This investigative documentary aired in the programme Hong Kong Connection in July 2020 for public broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong and won two awards in Hong Kong. The production of the documentary was led by television producer Bao Choy, who tried to discover the owners of a few vehicles suspected of supplied weapons to the attackers who launched an indiscriminate attack on scores of people. She checked a box to declare that the vehicle registration searches were for "other traffic and transport related matters". Other options available when accessing the database are "legal proceedings" and "sale and purchase of vehicle". Previously, however, journalists had been able to declare that their searches were for "other purposes". Choy was arrested on 3 November 2020, and her home in Mei Foo was searched by police. She was found guilty and given a HKD$6,000 penalty.
  • The Simpsons - The episode "One Angry Lisa" was not made available in Hong Kong's feed of Disney+ due to a line of a character mentioning forced labor camps in China were children make smartphones[3].

Video game censorship[]


  1. https://www.cbr.com/the-dark-knight-censored-hong-kong/
  2. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-65030531
  3. https://www.businessinsider.com/disney-remove-simpsons-episode-china-forced-labor-camps-hong-kong-2023-2.

External links[]

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