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Simpsons censored in Hong Kong for mentioning China ‘labour camps’

<span>Photograph: Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images

An episode of the Simpsons that references “forced labour camps” in China has been removed from Disney+ streaming services in Hong Kong.

The episode is the second in the long-running US cartoon’s latest season. One Angry Lisa sees Marge buy an interactive training exercise bike, similar to a Peloton bike. On an interactive tour, the guide takes Marge to the Great Wall of China with its wonders of “bitcoin mines, forced labour camps where children make smartphones, and romance”.

China’s government has long faced accusations of operating forced labour camps, particularly with Uyghur workers from the Xinjiang region.

Related: Free media in Hong Kong almost completely dismantled – report

The Guardian has confirmed, as first reported by the Financial Times, that One Angry Lisa is not available in Hong Kong, with the streaming platform showing all other episodes from the season.

The Walt Disney Co was contacted for comment.

Hong Kong is a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), but until recently had maintained far greater cultural, political, and social freedoms.

After a crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in 2019, it has come under increasing control of the PRC government, with intensifying censorship of political expression. Media outlets, political parties, bookshops and libraries, human rights websites, museums, and children’s books have all been targeted by authorities hunting out anti-government sentiment.

In 2021, Hong Kong’s legislature passed a film censorship law to “safeguard national security” but officials said at the time that the law did not apply to streaming services.

The Hong Kong government said the film censorship law was aimed at content deemed to “endorse, support, glorify, encourage and incite activities that might endanger national security”.

One Angry Lisa is at least the second episode of the Simpsons to be made unavailable on official platforms in Hong Kong. When Disney+ launched in Hong Kong in November 2021, episode 12 of the 16th season was not included. In that episode the family visit Tiananmen Square and see a plaque reading “on this site, in 1989, nothing happened”. Tiananmen is the site of a deadly 1989 crackdown against pro-democracy protesters.

Reuters contributed to this article