Disney Bows To Beijing, Removes ‘Forced Labor Camps’ Episode From Hong Kong
Disney has nixed an episode of “The Simpsons” from their streaming service in Hong Kong which references “forced labor camps” in China.
The episode, “One Angry Lisa,” which originally aired in Ocober, was inaccessible from the Disney+ platform in Hong Kong, according to the Financial Times.
In the episode, Marge Simpson is taking a virtual bike class with the Great Wall of China in the background. Her instructor says “Behold the wonders of China. Bitcoin mines, forced labor camps where children make smartphones.“
Disney+ removed an episode of Simpson (again) in Hong Kong due to reference of China’s forced labor camp. This is what you’ve missed. pic.twitter.com/zdEihr4LuR
— Asian American Conservative (@FactcheckingCon) February 7, 2023
The removal comes after the CCP imposed a controversial national security law in Hong Kong in 2020, under which offenses defined by the regime as ‘secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces’ can result in a lifetime of imprisonment.
This isn’t the first time Disney has bowed to Beijing. In 2021, the company pulled a 2005 episode referencing the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
Simpsons episode with Tiananmen Square sign saying ‘on this site, in 1989, nothing happened’ is missing from Disney+ https://t.co/K0LCP4csgw
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) November 29, 2021
The decision to censor in China’s favor is probably “to do with the company’s ties, current and future, in mainland China,” said Kenny Ng, associate professor at the Academy of Film at Hong Kong Baptist University in a statement to FT, adding “It could be strategic to eliminate any China-offending episodes.”
More via the Epoch Times:
The pulled episode, “Goo Goo Gai Pan,” features the Simpsons’ visit to Tiananmen Square, where they see a joke placard that reads, “On this site, in 1989, nothing happened.”
In 1989 a student-led pro-democracy movement broke out in China. Protesters called for democratic reforms in the Chinese government and staged mass protests in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. On June 4, the CCP sent troops to quash the protests, resulting in the deaths of thousands, according to rights groups’ estimates.
In the episode, the family also visits the embalmed body of former CCP leader Mao Zedong, whom Homer Simpson calls “a little angel that killed 50 million people.”
Under Mao’s leadership, historians have estimated that millions died during the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) movement.
In 2020, the company came under fire for partly filming the live-action movie “Mulan” in the Xinjiang region, where Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities are being detained in internment camps.
The movie features in its credits a “special thanks” to CCP agencies that are accused of participating in human rights violations against Uyghurs in the region, prompting calls for a boycott of the film.
According to a 2020 report by PEN America, a New York-based nonprofit group focused on defending free speech, U.S. studios’ investment in theme parks in China serves as a form of business pressure, given that companies would stand to lose billions of dollars if Beijing decided to punish them.
“Disney, for example, has a 47 percent stake in the Shanghai Disneyland Park, which opened in 2016 and which cost over $5.5 billion to build,” the report reads.
Forced Labor in China
The CCP has been accused of committing genocide against Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. The United Nations released a report in August 2022 detailing abuses committed by the regime.
The U.N. report found that the scale and brutality of the detentions, framed by the CCP as compulsory reeducation camps or “vocational skills education centers,” likely qualified as a crime against humanity.