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RFI Chinese: Hong Kong Government Removes Books from Public Libraries

Radio France Internationale (RFI) Chinese Edition recently reported that the Hong Kong government asked all departments to strengthen the protection of national security. The Hong Kong public library system has removed many books from the library. This has included books by at least four former Legislative Council members and scholars belonging to the moderate democrats. In addition it has included the well-known late pro-democracy veteran Szeto Wah. The public library system, which is operated with public funds and managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, has refused to reveal the number of books removed from shelves due to national security concerns. Some commentators worry that this may be the beginning of the “Hong Kong Cultural Revolution.” A Ming Pao investigative report found that, since the end of 2020, the newspaper’s collection of materials in public libraries has been consolidated, among which 468 audio-visual materials and books involving political themes and figures have been taken off the shelves. At least 195 items, that is, 40 percent, have been removed in the past two and a half years. 96 of them, which accounts for nearly half of the total number of removals, were removed in the past year. The subject matter of many removed books has nothing to do with national security. The authorities seem to be searching and removing books from the shelves based on the author’s name. Some local commentators are worried that the frontline bureaucrats of the Hong Kong government do not understand Chinese politics. They only know how to carry out orders involving a book list and a few names.

Source: RFI Chinese, May 15, 2023