Episode 2 of the US animated hit's 34th season mentions 'Bitcoin mines, forced labor camps' in China
A mobile phone displaying the Disney+ streaming service in Hong Kong, China, shows a list of episodes of popular United States cartoon series The Simpsons, with episode 12 of season 16, which depicts a scene of the Simpsons at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, the site of a deadly 1989 crackdown against democracy protesters, missing from the list. (Photo: AFP)
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 city.
Hong Kong once boasted significant artistic and cultural freedoms compared to 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 hit's 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 last October, could not be accessed on Disney+ using a Hong Kong connection but is available elsewhere, AFP confirmed.
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 crackdown on democracy protesters -- finding a sign there that reads: "On this site, in 1989, nothing happened."
Disney did not immediately provide comment while the Hong Kong government said it does not comment on decisions made by individual businesses.
In 2021, Hong Kong passed censorship laws forbidding broadcasts that might breach a broad national security law that China has imposed on the city.
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, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.
In recent years, Hollywood has been accused of bending to China's censorship regime to tap into its vast consumer base and billion-dollar box office.
In 2020, Disney came under fire for filming the live-action Mulan remake in Xinjiang, with local government agencies thanked in the credits.
A recent United Nations report found allegations of torture and forced labor in the far-western Xinjiang region were credible, accusations Beijing denies.
Rights groups say more than a million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities are detained in what the US State Department and others have said amounts to genocide.
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