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Opinion
Matthew Brooker

Reality TV Is the Last Thing Hong Kong Wants

Western entertainment is lending a hand in efforts to rebrand a city that is being remade in Beijing’s image.

Darkness visible.

Darkness visible.

Photographer: ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP

“Who Owns the Truth” was the title of an October 2020 award-winning documentary by Hong Kong’s public broadcaster that investigated the police’s handling of a gang attack on commuters during the 2019 pro-democracy protests. Authorities had their own answer: They replaced the broadcaster’s top management, rejected the awards, and prosecuted and fined one of the producers. It’s a question that continues to reverberate.

Hong Kong’s streets are quiet these days, stilled by a combination of the pandemic and the national security law that China imposed on the city at the end of June last year. The drive to erase the last vestiges of democratic opposition and assert a redefined Hong Kong identity has shifted to the intangible realms of public relations and image management. The task looks challenging.