A new television show called Expats was filmed in Hong Kong. But people in Hong Kong cannot watch it because of references to independence from China.
The new show from Amazon Prime tells the story of three expat women living in Hong Kong. An expat, or expatriate, is someone who lives in a foreign country. Actor Nicole Kidman stars in the show, alongside Ji-young Yoo and Sarayu Blue.
Expats includes images of people protesting for independence and free elections in Hong Kong. As a result, Hong Kong has censored the program.
People who try to watch the program while in Hong Kong get this message: “This video is currently unavailable to watch in your location.”
Expats is based on a book written by Hong Kong-born American writer Janice Y.K. Lee. The first two episodes of the six-episode program came out last week.
In recent years, Hong Kong has restricted political speech. Anti-government protests concerned political leaders in 2019. In 2020, China passed a National Security Law that criminalized political activities, such as protesting for independence.
Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China. It is supposed to be permitted to self-govern through a “one country, two systems” policy. But in recent years, the Hong Kong government has been pressured by China to severely limit free speech, public protests and political opposition.
In the first episode of Expats, people are shown at a protest. In Cantonese, they say “I want real general elections.” In a promotional video for the program, there is an image of a group of people holding umbrellas. That is a reference to the 2014 Umbrella Movement, when protesters demanded the right to choose the city’s Chief Executive.
It is not the first time a movie or television program has been banned or changed in Hong Kong. The Walt Disney Company removed an episode of The Simpsons from its Disney+ streaming service. The episode contained a reference to labor camps in China and could not be seen in Hong Kong.
It is not clear if Amazon and Walt Disney removed the programs on their own or if the companies were influenced by Hong Kong officials.
In 2021, the Hong Kong government changed a film censorship law to give them the right to remove films that show any act “which may amount to an offense endangering national security.”
Earlier this week, Hong Kong said it planned to create its own version of China’s National Security Law.
A spokesperson for the Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau of Hong Kong said the government would not comment about the show Expats. Amazon did not immediately answer questions from Associated Press reporters about why the program cannot be seen in Hong Kong.
I’m Dan Friedell.
Dan Friedell adapted this story for Learning English based on a report by the Associated Press.
Words in This Story
reference –v. to make a comment or show a picture that makes people think of an idea or topic
censor –n. to prevent the reading or viewing of a photo or video or text
location –n. the place where you are, or live
region –n. a specific area in the world
promotional –adj. something created to bring interest to an idea or an event
endanger –v. to have the potential to cause harm
We want to hear from you. Have you been able to see any of Expats where you live? What do you think so far?