Concerns over freedom of speech as Chinese cinemas told to screen two propaganda movies a week

Published (HKT): 2021.04.08 05:30

Cultural Revolution survivors have expressed worries about shrinking free speech in mainland China after officials ordered compulsory screenings of propaganda movies in cinemas.

Movie theaters are required to screen at least two productions designated by the Chinese Communist Party every week starting in April under a directive issued by the China Film Administration.

The directive — part of the party’s centenary celebrations — requires five screenings a week from theaters that fall under the People’s Cinema and National Alliance of Arthouse Cinemas.

Designated movies include revolutionary titles “The White-Haired Girl” and “The Red Detachment of Women.”

An online commentator surnamed Zhou, who lived through the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976, told Radio Free Asia that he found the party’s infringements on speech and thought becoming increasingly frequent.

“Controls on speech are pretty unscrupulous, and there is no concept of what is legal any more,” Zhou told RFA.

“They had already banned any dissenting voices, but now you’re not allowed unspoken opposition either.”

Writer Han Yiwen, who also witnessed the Cultural Revolution, said in the RFA report that officials had approached him and told him not to make any dissenting comments as the party’s centenary nears.

Han worried that the country would not be able to grow if people were not allowed to disagree with those in power.

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