Concerns over censorship are growing in Hong Kong as officials told schools to remove books and materials that violate the national security law.
What We Know:
- The Education Bureau ordered Hong Kong schools to review all learning materials in their curriculums and ensure that they are in accordance with the national security law. The law introduces “national security education” in schools and universities. Previously, Hong Kong tried to implement Chinese civic education in schools in 2012, but thousands protested, calling it propaganda.
- Hong Kong also expanded the police’s investigative and surveillance powers, even allowing them to monitor internet usage and publishing platforms. Local and mainland authorities have been given greater power to investigate and prosecute protesters and activists. Police no longer need a search warrant to enter a premises or stop a person. Police can also monitor Taiwanese and overseas political organizers and freeze their assets if there is suspicion that they are undermining national security. Police no longer require legislative approval and are immune to judicial review. The national security law criminalizes secession, subversion, terrorism, and foreign collusion.
- Public libraries were also affected this weekend. Libraries stopped loaning out books authored by political activists and listed them as “under review”. Among the books were titles authored by pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong and lawmaker Tanya Chan. “It’s about the fundamental freedom or liberty that everyone cherish in this city, being eroded and fade out already,” Wong said in a statement.
- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the situation “Orwellian” and said the “destruction of free Hong Kong continues”.
- Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said that the national security law allows people to “exercise their rights and freedoms, without being intimidated or attacked”. She added, “Instead of spreading fear, the law will actually remove fear and let Hong Kong people return to normal peaceful life and Hong Kong will resume its status as one of the safest cities in the world.”
Many worry that the national security law will lead to a censored state, and with the unchecked power of the police, people fear that they will have no choice but to comply.