A short sci-fi film titled “Hong Kong Will Be Destroyed After 33 Years” has become a viral hit and earned the ire of China's censors.
The seven minute and 28 second video, which has attracted 645,000 views since its upload to YouTube on March 3, 2014, features apathetic Hong Kongers indifferent to an approaching meteor, set to hit in 2047—the year when Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region of China, stops having separate laws from the mainland.
In the film, more than two-thirds of the city's people as well as large corporations leave after learning news of the meteor. The resulting emptying of the city lets small businesses flourish and frees up housing for everyone. The city is, in a sense, reborn, despite its impending doom. Eventually, scientists are able to destroy the meteor before it hits.
The video reveals Hong Kongers’ anxieties over political and social issues, such as their increasingly crowded and materialist city and the growing numbers of mainlanders since the city's transfer from the United Kingdom to China in 1997. It sends the opposite message of a very common view among mainlanders, that without China's economic support, Hong Kong would have been dead long ago.
One netizen, “iseeyouinmyheart,” commented on YouTube:
To me, HK is already finished. I can no longer feel the air of freedom, justice, rule of law, and fairness that I did before 1997.
Inevitably, the short video was blocked on Chinese video websites such as Youku. According to the blog Fei Chang Dao, search results for “33 Years” were being suppressed on both Baidu and Sina Weibo. According to China Digital Times, Chinese propaganda authorities’ order was leaked online:
State Council Information Office: Immediately remove the following from all websites: (1) information related to “supporting and rescuing Tang Jitian and other missing lawyers”; (2) video, text, etc. that advocates the short sci-fi film about Hong Kongers “saving themselves” titled “Hong Kong Will Be Destroyed in 33 Years”.
Yik Kan Cheung, a VFX artist and post-production supervisor of the video, told The Diplomat why they think the video was banned in mainland:
The reason the video is being censored by authorities is, we believe, that they think what they’re doing is keeping the society peaceful. But, what we think they are doing is keeping people away from knowing the truth, that China is trying to suffocate Hong Kong to death by importing Mainland Chinese into Hong Kong until there’s enough people for them to control the elections. After that, there will be no open elections in Hong Kong.