An episode of The Simpsons that refers to “forced labor camps” in China is nowhere to be found on the Disney+ streaming service in Hong Kong amid growing censorship concerns in the territory.
Hong Kong once boasted significant artistic and cultural freedoms compared with mainland China, but authorities have clamped down on dissent following democracy protests in 2019, including stepping up film censorship.
Episode 2 of the US animated hits’ 34th season included the line: “Behold the wonders of China. Bitcoin mines, forced labor camps where children make smartphones, and romance.”
One Angry Lisa, which first aired in October last year, could not be accessed on Disney+ using a Hong Kong connection, but is available elsewhere.
It is the second time in three years that the streaming service’s Hong Kong version has dropped a Simpsons episode that satirized China.
The previously affected episode showed the Simpsons visiting Beijing’s Tiananmen Square — the site of a deadly 1989 massacre of democracy advocates — and finding a sign there that read: “On this site, in 1989, nothing happened.”
The Hong Kong government and Disney did not comment.
Hong Kong in 2021 passed censorship laws forbidding broadcasts that might breach a National Security Law that Beijing imposed on the territory.
Censors have since ordered directors to make cuts to their films and refused permission for others to be shown.
While those rules do not cover streaming services, authorities have warned that online platforms are still subject to the National Security Law, which criminalizes the broadly defined crimes of subversion, succession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.
Beijing has long denied accusations of torture and forced labor in Xinjiang region, even after a UN report found the allegations credible.
Rights groups say more than 1 million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities had been detained in what the US Department of State and others have said amounts to genocide.
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