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‘Simpsons’ Tiananmen Square episode missing from Disney+ launch in Hong Kong

Fox Network, The Simpsons

Disney+, the Walt Disney Company’s online streaming service, has removed an episode of “The Simpsons” in Hong Kong that shows characters visiting Beijing and Tiananmen Square and features one character reading a sign that states “Tien An Men Square: on this site, in 1989, nothing happened,” according to multiple reports.

The episode, “Goo Goo Gai Plan,” which aired during the show’s 16th season in 2005, also depicted a character heading over to a line of tanks, which is a nod to the well-known Tank Man photograph, taken during the protests that led to a state massacre of demonstrators, reports Bloomberg.

Variety reports that the episode is available in other parts of Asia and could be accessed in Hong Kong if a viewer used a virtual private network, which would hide the user’s IP address and, in essence, fool the server into thinking the user was in a location other than Hong Kong, where the episode is unavailable.

According to Bloomberg, this notes the first time a top American streaming provider has censored material in Hong Kong. 

“Basically, the whole story is for streaming companies to be more tailored to a Chinese audience and to not offend the Chinese government,” Kenny Ng, an associate professor specializing in film censorship at Hong Kong Baptist University, told Bloomberg. “This is likely to continue in the future with more companies with financial interests in China.”

A film censorship law was enacted in Hong Kong in October banning content that goes against Beijing’s National Security Law, reports Bloomberg. China imposed that law — which limits freedom of expression — in June 2020 in response to anti-government protests.

About 85 percent of the nearly 100 cases that were brought by China against civilians have been related to speech crimes, reports Bloomberg. 

The Hill has reached out to the Walt Disney Company for comment.

Tags China Disney Disney+ Hong Kong Overseas censorship of Chinese issues Politics of Hong Kong The Simpsons The Walt Disney Company Tiananmen Square

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