Disney will not show a scene mentioning “forced labor camps” in mainland China on Disney+ in Hong Kong.
The massive content house is officially set to censor its second episode in the latest season of The Simpsons in Hong Kong because of a scene critical of China, according to CNN.
Apparently offending the Chinese Communist Party’s censors, the new episode contains a scene with Marge Simpson—the show’s matriarch—on a spin bike, watching a virtual instructor.
“Behold the wonders of China,” the instructor says at one point. “Bitcoin mines, forced labor camps where children make smartphones, and romance.”
The line references accusations of China’s human rights abuses in the region of Xinjiang, where minorities and dissidents—particularly the Uighurs of western China—are allegedly forced to labor in internment camps.
WATCH ➡️ In the latest season of “The Simpsons,” one of the episodes makes a reference to forced labor camps in China.
— Straight Arrow News (@StraightArrow__) February 7, 2023
Disney previously came under fire for filming its 2020 live-action adaptation of Mulan—which was partly filmed in Xinjiang—and for thanking the Chinese Communist Party in the credits.
The company’s most recent self-censorship to avoid offending the Chinese government comes after China imposed a national security law on Hong Kong in 2020 in the wake of months of protests against the mainland regime. The law criminalizes “undermining the power or authority of the central government” among other acts that limit free speech and freedom of the press.
A Hong Kong government spokesman refused to comment on whether his government had asked Disney to remove the episode, but added: the offenses of the national security law “are clearly defined” and “law-abiding people and organizations will not unwittingly violate the law.”
This is not the first time Disney has self-censored to avoid offending the Chinese government.
In 2021, Disney removed another episode from The Simpsons on Disney+ in Hong Kong for a scene in which the Simpsons visit Beijing.
When the family arrives at Tiennamen Square, they see a sign that reads: “On this site, in 1989, nothing happened.”
Disney+ launched in Hong Kong and the episode of the Simpsons where the family visit Tiananmen Square in China is missing, in what appears to be another attempt to censor media by Hong Kong authorities.
Censorship and the crackdown on freedom of expression in Hong Kong must end. pic.twitter.com/Ilcl0AQ0iN
— Amnesty International USA (@amnestyusa) December 14, 2021