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New Publication: Michael Ng, Political Censorship in British

New Publication: Michael Ng, Political Censorship in British Hong Kong: Freedom of Expression and the Law (1842–1997)

Michael Ng (吴海杰), University of Hong Kong

Cambridge University Press (4 Aug. 2022)

Drawing on archival materials, Michael Ng challenges the widely accepted narrative that freedom of expression in Hong Kong is a legacy of British rule of law. Demonstrating that the media and schools were pervasively censored for much of the colonial period and only liberated at a very late stage of British rule, this book complicates our understanding of how Hong Kong came to be a city that championed free speech by the late 1990s. With extensive use of primary sources, the free press, freedom of speech and judicial independence are all revealed to be products of Britain’s China strategy. Ng shows that, from the nineteenth to the twentieth century, Hong Kong’s legal history was deeply affected by China’s relations with world powers. Demonstrating that Hong Kong’s freedoms drifted along waves of change in global politics, this book offers a new perspective on the British legal regime in Hong Kong.

Table of Contents


1 – Punitive Censorship and Libel Lawsuits against the Press

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

3 – ‘Communist China Now Contiguous to Hong Kong’: Censorship Imposed by the ‘Free World’

4 – ‘Patriotism to You Can Be Revolutionary Heresy to Us’: Hardened Control of Media, Schools and Entertainment

5 – Preparing to Negotiate with China: Overt Loosening and Covert Control

6 – Liberating Hong Kong for China: De-silencing the City

Conclusion and Epilogue

Glossary of Chinese Newspapers



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