4 July: Following China’s new security law, the Leisure and Cultural Service Department has removed at least nine books from Hong Kong’s public libraries and marked them as “under review”, reported BBC.
According to the South China Morning Post, the removed books are authored or co-authored by prominent pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong, pro-democracy politician Tanya Chan and localist Horace Chin, and are reviewed as to find out whether they violate the new national security law. It was officially confirmed by the Leisure and Cultural Service Department that some books were being scrutinized for compliance with the law.
Pro-democracy activist Wong states that “[his] books were published years before Hong Kong’s anti-extradition movement, and yet they are now prone to book censorship under the new law, one step away from the actual book banning.” However, Ronny Tong Ka-wah, a member of the Executive Council cabinet, does not agree with Wong’s statement. “As a government establishment, it will be wrong and contrary to the purpose of the law to encourage people to read publications, which might incite people to commit an offence under the law, so I don’t think removing these books from a public library is wrong,”, Tong said.
In 1997, Hong Kong’s sovereignty was handed back to China by Britain under the “one country, two systems” arrangement with certain rights, such as current social and economic system, supposed to remain the same until 2047. In 2019, protests broke out over the proposed extradition bill that would allow extradition to mainland China. The bill has been withdrawn. However, the new national security law passed legislation on 30 June this year and enforces the punishment of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign or external forces with a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Read more about the state of artistic freedom in China in the State of Artistic Freedom Report 2020.