• Sat
  • Aug 30, 2014
  • Updated: 10:24pm
NewsHong Kong

Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-shing rules out inquiry into Hong Kong Ballet 'censorship' row

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 November, 2013, 5:41pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 November, 2013, 6:14pm

The Secretary for Home Affairs has ruled out the possibility of a probe into the Hong Kong Ballet censorship row, saying the government would not intervene in local creativity.

Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-shing attended the Asia Cultural Co-operation Forum on Thursday with culture ministries from 10 Southeast Asian countries to exchange ideas about promoting local culture and arts.

When asked if he would investigate allegations against Hong Kong Ballet of cutting a sequence depicting the dark side of communist history from its latest co-production for political reasons, he said, “We would not intervene in local creativity but tend to promote cultural development.”

Also attending the forum was China’s minister of Culture, Cai Wu, who said that he hadn’t had a chance to watch the Hong Kong production.

He failed to comment on whether the Cultural Revolution was too politically sensitive to feature in a creative performance but said, “Artists should be given a free hand to do their work.”

The premiere of The Dream of the Red Chamber, a joint production with Germany’s Ballett Dortmund, included a 12-minute projection sequence depicting different stages in China’s history. But one part, in which dancers in Red Guard uniforms waved copies of Mao Zedong’s “little red book”, was cut from subsequent performances.

The German newspaper Ruhr Nachrichten reported that several officials pressured the production team to cut the Cultural Revolution scenes. The newspaper did not make clear if the officials were from Hong Kong or the mainland. Beijing’s liaison office chief Zhang Xiaoming reportedly attended the premiere.

Hong Kong Ballet said the decision was taken for technical reasons, and later restored the sequence to the show.


For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

The Secretary for Home Affairs is a former slavish Maoist cult nut and chief editor of Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece Ta Kung Pao. Another senior official appointed not because of talent or relevant experience, but because the liaison office said so.
Nevertheless, if HK Ballet is NOT prejudiced in any way, that should be an end to the story.
"Hong Kong Ballet said the decision was taken for technical reasons, and later restored the sequence to the show."

But I thought it was removed from subsequent performances? There needs to be further clarification on this please.

Also that's a huge cop out from Tsang Tak-shing considering the fact that his department directly funds the Hong Kong Ballet. There needs to be some clarification on what officials pressured the production team.

SCMP for the sake of press and creative freedom, please do not stop investigating this story and find out which HK government official is responsible for the pressure. This is a lot more serious than some illegal structure. It's nearly in the same league as the HKTV scandal.

We need to protect our core values.
I attended a "subsequent" performance, on Friday November 1, and the Red Guards sequence, and the accompanying projection images, was performed. I have read with interest the reports about this controversy, and they all seem to repeat this confusing line. It looks like this piece of background just keeps getting inserted into stories in an example of careless journalism. It needs to be clarified just what was cut -- the dance and the projection sequence, or just the projection sequence (the dance could easily have been performed without the projection sequence -- if there was truly a technical problem, it could only have been with the projection, which was very powerful but did actually distract from the dancing) -- and how many performances were actually affected. The initial rumours I heard about it was that only the initial performance was affected because of the presence of invited mainland officials. If so, these officials should have been told of the nature of the content of the performance and left to decide if they wanted to attend or not.
"I attended a "subsequent" performance, on Friday November 1, and the Red Guards sequence, and the accompanying projection images, was performed."

Interesting. In that case the SCMP really needs to be less sloppy with their reporting because they're spreading misinformation.

If the cut parts of the ballet were added back in subsequent performances, then I withdraw my criticism of the Home Affairs Bureau and Tsang Tak-shing.


SCMP.com Account