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2 - ‘Reading Every Line’: Era of the Daily Vetting of Newspaper Proofs

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 July 2022

Michael Ng
Affiliation:
The University of Hong Kong
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Summary

Chapter 2 uncovers how the political censorship regime in Hong Kong evolved from punitive censorship to what I call ‘pre-emptive censorship’, a measure that imposed the mandatory daily vetting of newspaper proofs by government censors. During the China-backed large-scale strikes that occurred in 1922–1926, the colonial government faced the most serious challenge to its legitimacy to date. In response to the resulting anxiety over its continued rule in Hong Kong, the colonial government further stretched its control of the press by enacting newspaper regulations. Press control was expanded from punishing editors for what they had already published to day-to-day political vetting of the content of Chinese newspaper proofs before they were printed for sale to the public. The operations of the censors’ office produced newspapers with weird dots and crosses concealing censored material. News manuscripts banned from publication featured a big chop from the government’s Press Censorship Office, as shown on the cover of this book. The daily operation of this mysterious office, hitherto unknown to scholarship, will be described in detail in this chapter.

Type
Chapter
Information
Political Censorship in British Hong Kong
Freedom of Expression and the Law (1842–1997)
, pp. 27 - 54
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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