Made In America, Censored In China

Osnos puts Chinese censorship of American films in historical context

Historians point out that this is hardly the first time that Hollywood has heeded the demands of foreign customers, and that some of the most severe cuts were ordained by our allies. In the nineteen-twenties, the British Board of Film Censors had what the author Ruth Vasey called a “range of idiosyncratic requirements” relating to animal cruelty, references to mental insanity, Christian ceremonies, and depictions of colonial relations. The British censor in Hong Kong, then a Crown Colony, explained to the American consul that protecting Britain’s image onscreen was vital in “a small settlement of white men on the fringe of a huge Empire of Asiatics.”