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Crew and passengers from more than 50 countries stuck on ship moored off San Francisco, as global infections pass 100,000 mark

Nearly half of the 46 people tested for coronavirus onboard the Grand Princess cruise ship moored off San Francisco have returned a positive result, vice president Mike Pence has said, and the fate of its more than 3,500 passengers and crew from more than 50 countries remains unclear.

Pence said 21 positive results had been recorded 19 crew members and two passengers and that those that will need to be quarantined will be quarantined. Those who will require medical help will receive it. He urged elderly Americans to consider carefully taking future cruises during the crisis.

There is little detail as to where quarantined and sick passengers will be taken. Previously, military sites have been used to quarantine holidaymakers from the Diamond Princess, moored off Yokohama. On the Grand Princess, some passengers have already complained about the handling of the situation, saying they learned of the coronavirus cases from media reports, and there are concerns for one passenger who has stage 4 cancer.

There are 2,422 guests and 1,111 crew on the vessel, with more than 140 Britons and four Australians among them.

Meanwhile, Florida reported two deaths, the first US fatalities outside the west coast. Health officials said two people in their 70s who had travelled overseas died, one in Santa Rosa County and the other near Fort Myers. The US death toll is now 16.

Globally, the virus has now killed nearly 3,500 people and infected more than 100,000 across 92 nations and territories. Italy and Iran have become the latest hotspots with sharp rises in confirmed cases, recording 4,636 and 4,747 respectively.

In China, 99 new cases were confirmed, and 29 deaths as of midnight Friday. In official data released on Saturday, Chinas exports fell 17.2%, the biggest drop since February 2019 during the trade war with the US, and imports dropped 4%.

The US government plans to take the Grand Princess to a non-commercial port where all the passengers and crew would be tested, however, President Donald Trump said on Friday he would prefer not to allow the passengers onto American soil.

I like the numbers being where they are, said Trump, who appeared to be explicitly acknowledging his political concerns about the outbreak: I dont need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasnt our fault.

Closer to the epicentre of the global outbreak, Hong Kong further sealed itself off from the outside world, with authorities advising Hongkongers against all non-essential travel abroad, and making all arrivals complete a health declaration form.

Previously, the measure, which will come into force from Sunday, was required only for mainland Chinese passengers. The city has reported 106 cases and two deaths in the past six weeks, according to its health officials.

In Australia, authorities are working to trace about 70 patients of a doctor who continued to see patients despite falling ill with coronavirus-like symptoms. He fell ill in the US during a flight from Denver to San Francisco on 27 February before flying back to Melbourne and working throughout the following week. He was later confirmed to have the virus and Toorak clinic, where he works, has since been closed.

Victorias health minister, Jenny Mikakos, said: I have to say I am flabbergasted that a doctor that has flu-like symptoms has presented to work, Mikakos said.

A Revolutionary Guard member disinfects a truck to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus in the city of Sanandaj, western Iran. Photograph: Keyvan Firouzei/AP

Equally astonished were police in Sydney, who appealed for calm after a brawl broke out between three women in a supermarket over toilet paper amid continued panic buying. We just ask that people dont panic like this when they go out shopping, said acting inspector Andrew New from New South Wales police. There is no need for it. It isnt the Thunderdome, it isnt Mad Max, we dont need to do that.

There is no need for people to go out and panic buy at supermarkets, paracetamol and canned food or toilet paper.

In the meantime, passengers aboard the Grand Princess remained holed up in their rooms as they awaited word about the fate of the ship. Some said ship officials only informed them of the confirmed coronavirus cases after they first learned about it from news reports.

Passenger Kari Kolstoe, a retiree from North Dakota has stage-4 cancer and is particularly concerned. Kolstoe, 60, said she and her husband, Paul, 61, had looked forward to the cruise to Hawaii as a brief, badly needed respite from the grind of medical intervention she has endured for the past 18 months.

Karie Kolstoe has stage 4 cancer. Photograph: Kari Kolstoe/Reuters

Now facing the prospect of a two-week quarantine far from home in Grand Forks, she worried their getaway cruise will end up causing a fateful delay in her next round of chemotherapy, scheduled to begin early next week.

Its very unsettling, she said in a telephpone interview from the ship on Friday. Its still a worry that Im going to not get back.

Besides the implications for cancer treatment is the fear of falling ill from exposure to a respiratory virus especially dangerous to older people with chronic health conditions and suppressed immunity. Im very at risk for this, said Kolstoe, whose rare form of neuroendocrine cancer has spread throughout her body. Me staying on here for a lot of reasons isnt good.

Steven Smith and his wife, Michele, of Paradise, California, went on the cruise to celebrate their wedding anniversary. They said they were a bit worried but felt safe in their room, which they had left just once since Thursday to video chat with their children. Crew members wearing masks and gloves delivered trays with their food in covered plates and left them outside their door.

To pass the time they have been watching television, reading and looking out the window, they said. Thank God, we have a window! Steven said.

An epidemiologist who studies the spread of virus particles said the recirculated air from a cruise ships ventilation system, plus the close quarters and communal settings, made passengers and crew vulnerable to infectious diseases. Theyre not designed as quarantine facilities, to put it mildly, said Don Milton of the University of Maryland. Youre going to amplify the infection by keeping people on the boat.

Another Princess ship, the Diamond Princess, was quarantined for two weeks in Yokohama, Japan, last month because of the virus. Ultimately, about 700 of the 3,700 people aboard became infected in what experts pronounced a public-health failure, with the vessel essentially becoming a floating germ factory.

In the US, officials in Austin cancelled this years SXSW festival, a major tech and music conference, amid coronavirus concerns. SXSW, which draws 400,000 visitors, was scheduled for 13 to 22 March.

Austins mayor, Steve Adler, said: Ive gone ahead and declared a local disaster in the city and associated with that, have issued an order that effectively cancels SXSW.

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Im a true cynic, but in a world that feels increasingly grim, its good to have someone to admire

Im a true cynic who has never believed in role models. Im wary of the Inspiring Woman Industrial Complex and its exhortations for us to Lean In or Eat, Pray and Love. Heroism is a label I would bestow lightly, if ever, knowing how the milkshake duck quacks for us all, eventually.

And yet there is something about the chaos and awfulness of 2019 that has softened me up for inspiration. You could be forgiven for almost flinching at breaking news alerts at this point our politics is so woefully scandal-ridden, our leaders are so comically terrible. Traits we were raised to believe were wrong lying, cruelty, greed are embraced wholeheartedly by leaders like Donald Trump. In many parts of Australia, we end the year shrouded in smoke and ash.

So in Gotham-esque times, Ive found myself looking for heroes. Not people I worship or believe are without fault, but people who have helped push back against the tide of hopelessness and despair; people bringing courage, excellence, compassion, defiance and, in some cases, just pure joy into the world.

Heres a very incomplete list of some who made my year tell me yours in the comments.

Volunteer firefighters

Australias unprecedented and seemingly intractable bushfire crisis has taken a heavy toll in lives and homes, buried cities in smoke and ignited anger over our lack of action on climate change. What is usually our happiest time of year has been marked by tragedy, dread and mounting anxiety.

Every day of this emergency, though, thousands of firefighters primarily volunteers have acted with selflessness and bravery. Everything that was already burning was burning even more, everywhere you looked was burning, was how the captain of the RFS brigade in the NSW town of Balmoral described the horror around his team on Friday. The firefighters that were here, they were not only were they fighting for their own lives, they were fighting for this community.

There are necessary political debates going on about how sustainable the current volunteer model is but in the meantime we are awed and grateful.

Megan Rapinoe

Megan Rapinoe (right) celebrates scoring her sides first goal of a July 2019 game with team-mate Alex Morgan. Photograph: John Walton/PA

The Pose said it all: arms outstretched and smiling face turned to the sun, both basking in her own success, taking up as much space as she could and inviting the world in for an embrace. Megan Rapinoe, the co-captain of the US womens football team, was one of the biggest sporting stars of the year. She led her team to victory at the World Cup and was named the tournaments top scorer and best player. But she transcended the game and gave even non-soccer fans a jolt of hope with her fearless advocacy leading her teams campaign for equal pay, refusing to sing the national anthem in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, and being unapologetically, joyfully open about her sexuality, posing nude with her partner, Sue Bird.

She became a Twitter target of the president when she stated matter-of-factly, Im not going to the fucking White House in the event of a World Cup victory. Instead, her team got a parade in New York City, where she partied hard, basked in her success and used her speech to plea for a better world. This is my charge to everyone, she said. We have to be better. We have to love more. Hate less.

TikTok teens

Most social media platforms have long been colonised by brands, Nazis and your older relatives sharing political disinformation, but TikTok has not only been a shelter from the storm, its been one of the most fun corners of the internet. The low-fi, high energy short video-making app is a geyser of creativity, nihilist humour, dancing and politics, driven primarily by teenagers displaying astonishing wit (and incredible moves).

Feroza Aziz, a 17-year-old Muslim American from New Jersey, became one of the biggest TikTok stars of the year with a short make-up tutorial that quickly segued into a PSA about the imprisonment of millions of Uyghurs in China.

A still from Feroza Azizs Tiktok make-up tutorial. Photograph: Tiktok

For the Walk a Mile challenge, users attempted to wear household objects loaves of bread, pencils, chairs as shoes while prancing around their houses. While Australia burned, and Scott Morrison slipped out of the country to Hawaii, teens took their revenge by roasting our absent leader. As an adult you can sometimes feel like an awkward chaperone at a high school party on the app uninvolved and uninvited but you always leave thinking the kids are all right.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

In 2018, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shook up American politics when, at just 28, the political novice challenged her local Democratic congressman with an insurgent, grassroots campaign. She promised to deliver for the working class and communities of colour and won.

In 2019, she underscored how she pulled off that victory with her relentless work ethic, passion for social justice and deftness at politics in the internet age. Most notably, she has transformed usually staid congressional committees into a spectator sport. She filleted Mark Zuckerberg during his recent appearance, exposing the hollowness of Facebooks claim to act in the interests of democracy or its users privacy.

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‘So you won’t take down lies?’: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez challenges Facebook CEO video

Politics is tough on women, especially women of colour, but AOC hasnt shrunk or changed herself she is unyielding about her values and about who she is (the Instagram makeup tutorials are a delight). In the process, she is changing the game. Her confidence is infectious, too. One of my favourite onscreen moments this year was AOC in her tiny New York apartment, geeing herself up before a debate in the Netflix documentary about her campaign.

I need to take up space. I can do this, she tells herself.

Lil Nas X

Lil Nas X channels Little Richard and Prince at the MTV awards. Photograph: Getty/Rex Shutterstock

There were plenty of pop-cultural thrills in 2019: watching Jennifer Lopez pull off an all-time comeback in Hustlers (and shaking her perfect butt), watching Lizzo bring relentless energy and joy to every music awards show (and shaking her perfect butt), the Little Women trailer (butts very much obscured by civil war-era fashions, but perfect nonetheless).

Up there has been the Lil Nas X ascendancy. This year the teen rapper rose from obscurity at least outside social media to dropping the hip-hop country mash-up Old Town Road, which sat atop the singles charts for a record-breaking 19 weeks. Gay, funny, deft at social media, dazzling on a red carpet, Montero Lamar Hills (his real name) success story has been described as akin to A Star is Born, but starring a teen in Atlanta with a dream and a SoundCloud account. Old Town Road is not my favourite song of the year, but its catchy and fun and silly and impossible not to sing along with. It also seems to hotwire the happiness receptors in the brains of small children show me a club on this planet that goes harder than an elementary school hosting Lil Nas X.

Complex (@Complex)

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Apple’s decision to greenlight an app called HKmaps, which is being used by pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong to crowdsource information about street closures and police presence, is attracting the ire of the Chinese government.

An article in Chinese state mouthpiece, China Daily, attacks the iPhone maker for reversing an earlier decision not to allow the app to be listed on the iOS App Store — claiming the app is “allowing the rioters in Hong Kong to go on violent acts” (via The Guardian).

HKmaps uses emoji to denote live police and protest activity around Hong Kong, as reported by users.

The former British colony is a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China that’s been able to maintain certain economic and and political freedoms since reunification with China — under the one country, two systems principle. But earlier this year pro-democracy protests broke out after the Hong Kong government sought to pass legislation that would allow for extradition to mainland China. It’s policing around those on-going protests that’s being made visible on HKmaps.

The app’s developer denies the map enables illegal activity, saying its function is “for info” purposes only — to allow residents to move freely around the city by being able to avoid protest flash-points. But the Chinese government is branding it “toxic”.

“Business is business, and politics is politics. Nobody wants to drag Apple into the lingering unrest in Hong Kong. But people have reason to assume that Apple is mixing business with politics, and even illegal acts. Apple has to think about the consequences of its unwise and reckless decision,” the China Daily writer warns in a not-so-veiled threat about continued access to the Chinese market.

“Providing a gateway for ‘toxic apps’ is hurting the feelings of the Chinese people, twisting the facts of Hong Kong affairs, and against the views and principles of the Chinese people,” it goes on. “Apple and other corporations should be able to discern right from wrong. They also need to know that only the prosperity of China and China’s Hong Kong will bring them a broader and more sustainable market.”

The article takes further aim at Apple — claiming it reinstated a song which advocates for independence for Hong Kong and had previously been removed from its music store.

We’ve reached out to Apple for comment.

A few days ago the company was getting flak from the other direction as Western commentators piled on to express incredulity over its decision, at the app review stage, not to allow HKmaps on its store. The app’s developer said Apple App Store reviewers had rejected it citing the reasoning as “the app allowed users to evade law enforcement”.

Yet, as many pointed out at the time, the Google-owned Waze app literally describes its function as “avoid police” if you take the trouble to read its iOS listing. So it looked like a crystal-clear case of double standards by Cupertino. And, most awkwardly for Apple, as if the US tech giant was siding with the Chinese state against Hong Kong as concerned residents fight for their autonomy and call for democracy.

We asked Apple about its decision to reject the app at the App Store review stage last week. It did not provide any comment but a couple of days afterwards a spokesman pointed us to an “update” — where the developer tweeted that the iOS version was “Approved, comming soon!” [sic].

At the time of writing the iOS app remains available on the App Store but the episode highlights the tricky trade-offs Apple is facing by operating in the Chinese market — a choice that risks denting its reputation for highly polished corporate values.

The size of the China market is such that just “economical deceleration” can — and has — put a serious dent in Apple’s bottom line. If the company were to exit — or be ejected — from the market entirely there would be no way for it to cushion the blow for shareholders. Yet with a premium brand so bound up with ethical claims to champion and defend fundamental human rights like privacy Apple risks being pinned between a rock and a hard place as an increasingly powerful China flexes more political and economic muscle.

Wider trade tensions between the US and China are also creating further instability, causing major operating headaches for Chinese tech giant Huawei — with the Trump administration pressuring allies to freeze it out of 5G networks and leaning on US companies not to provide services to Chinese firms (leading to question marks over whether Huawei’s smartphones can continue using Google’s Android OS, and suggestions it might seek to deploy its own OS).

The going is certainly getting tougher for tech businesses working from East to West. But it also remains to be seen how sustainable Apple’s West-to-East democratic balancing act can be given heightened and escalating geopolitical tensions.

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As Hollywood continues its courtship of China, it can learn all about cultural differences and censorship from the Hong Kong film-makers who went there first

China is the future in cinema terms at least. As Hollywood expansionist strategy makes clear, most film-industry insiders believe that China is where the money is, and will be. Despite a recent dip in takings, the Chinese box office is expected to outgross the USs in 2017 for the first time: projections suggest that Chinese cinemas will earn $10.4bn, as opposed to $10.2bn in the US. In February, the huge totals for the Stephen Chow film The Mermaid helped Chinas monthly gross $1.05bn surpass that of all of North America (including Canada), which was $790m for the same period.

China is moving towards Hollywood, too. In an effort spearheaded by billionaire Wang Jianlin, the Dalian Wanda Group has been investing in anything that is for sale in Tinseltown, including Batman producers Legendary Entertainment and the cinema chain AMC, and is currently angling to acquire Paramount. Meanwhile, Hollywood increasingly has to comply with Chinas written and unwritten regulations, and make countless compromises, to produce audience-pleasing blockbusters that satisfy the censors. And in order to bypass the quota that China sets for foreign movies (34 a year), US studios have started to make co-productions with Chinese ones adapting further to Chinas requests, censorship and regulations in order to do so.

Trailer for the box office record-breaking Stephen Chow film The Mermaid.

It is an exercise fraught with unexpected consequences, as the Hong Kong film industry until recently one of the most productive and vibrant in the world knows only too well. If Hong Kongs experience is anything to go by, it will mean that, according to the director Johnnie To, the type of films that the public will be able to see will shrink. To, one of Hong Kongs most famous and established film-makers, who is best known in the west for his Election series, adds: Everyone who makes expensive films will have to make compromises, because China is where the money is. Its that simple.

Hong Kongs pre-eminent position in the Chinese-language film industry dates back to Chinas civil war in the 1930s and 40s, between Mao Zedongs communist forces and Chiang Kai-sheks nationalists. Whole studios emigrated from Shanghai (formerly Chinas film-making centre) and settled in what was then a British colony. Hong Kong produced Mandarin- and Cantonese-language movies until the 1960s; gradually thereafter, Cantonese began to dominate. But language seemed almost irrelevant: Hong Kong cinema had entered its golden era, and, as Shu Kei, film critic and professor at the Academy of Performing Arts in Hong Kong, recalls, actors would be busy on nearly 10 sets in a single day.

The golden era had an output of up to 250 films a year, and the slowdown only started in the 90s, says Kei. Quality was problematic, but the craze was such that cinemas were screening movies at a slightly faster pace, in order to squeeze in one extra show, while film directors and actors just improvised with no script. Profits were so high that organised crime became an active part of the industry.

Brigitte Lin in Chungking Express (1994) Photograph: Ronald Grant

But in the late 90s, just at the point at which audiences became more discriminating and DVDs started to eat into profits, China began opening up, changing the game entirely. Hong Kongs movie stars were highly attractive and recognisable, but to remain relevant, Hong Kong cinema had to shift its attention to mainland audiences, and cut back on some of its more eccentric traits. When Wong Kar Wai shot Chungking Express in 1994, Brigitte Lin was dressed up in a wig, sunglasses and a raincoat because she was busy on a period movie set, and had no time to go through makeup and costume again. But it worked! says Shu Kei with a giggle. That era was soon over.

The first movie I shot in China was in the 80s, and I required no permits to film there. I didnt need to submit my script either, recalls Mabel Cheung, another of Hong Kongs most important auteur film makers. I needed to shoot in China for my trilogy on illegal migrants, and the only issue was people crowding the set as they were so excited to see Hong Kong film stars. Sammo Hung was the male lead, and that meant we were followed around all the way into the hotel, and filming was a challenge.

Some years later, Cheung was back in China filming a major historical drama, The Soong Sisters (1997), based on the real-life story of three sisters married to three of the most important men in modern Chinese history the Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek, Chinas first president Sun Yat-sen, and HH Kung, Chinas first finance minister. It was a co-production with the Beijing Film Studio. I had to submit the script and get permission, but the Chinese film industry at the time was not strong: money had to be entirely provided by us, and they supplied the crew and the film studio. But when we submitted the film to the censorship bureau, we were told we had to go to the Important Affairs Commission, since it was a historical movie.

It ended up with Cheung losing the last 18 minutes of her movie, in spite of her long pleadings with the censors office: I never got my ending back. I had to reconstruct an ending I could live with from leftover material they agreed to return. They said it was not possible for Soong Mei-ling and Soong Ai-ling to hug, because one was married to a nationalist and the other to the father of the nation; so we had an argument about history. But I managed to get my film, and [Chinese] mainland distribution. While waiting however, Cheung filmed Beijing Rocks (2001), about the Chinese capitals booming underground music scene. That got banned, she says, but I could take it to Hong Kong, and after that I could go back to China. At the time they banned the movie, not the person.

Like any foreign territory, Hong Kong was also subject to a yearly quota. Then, while the former colony was recovering from the devastating economic effects of the Sars epidemic in 2003, Beijing announced the establishment of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, or CEPA, a free-trade agreement which granted preferential access for Hong Kong films to the Chinese market. It proved a watershed moment for Hong Kong cinema.

Infernal Affairs (2002), directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak.

However, as Chinas economic clout grew, the censors got more confident. In 2002, Hong Kongs filmgoers were queuing up to see Infernal Affairs, co-directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak the beginning of a double-agent cop trilogy in the greatest tradition, with an exhilarating succession of twists. To break into the mainland market, it had three different endings for the censors to choose from. In a mainland China movie, you cannot have a bad guy who gets away with his crimes, explains film-maker Jevons Au. Multiple endings to suit the mainland market used to be OK. No more. Now, if you want to distribute in China, you must have only one approved ending worldwide. You can step on the line. But you cannot cross it.

Au knows all about being banned: he is one of the five co-directors of Ten Years, a politically uncompromising dystopian tale which imagines Hong Kong under an ever-more repressive regime. All five have been banned from China, despite Ten Years winning best film at the Hong Kong film awards and being feted in critics circles as the harbinger of a local renaissance in small-budget productions that talk to local audiences, and are not geared to grossing millions in China.

For us, it is complicated, says Au. The uniqueness of Hong Kong is our freedom of speech, of creativity, of expression. You can do and say anything you want. To make a co-production with China, you have to follow ever stricter rules: half of the cast and crew has to be Chinese. The censors have the last word. Crime stories cannot have too many details. Stories of corruption must end with the bad guy behind bars. No ghosts. No gay love stories. No religion. No nudity. No politics He counts on his fingers. Its kind of a trap. The moment you fall into it, you change. You hurt your creativity.

Other films suggest, however, that obstacles can stimulate creativity, and not necessarily crush it. Director Stephen Chow shifted his operation to China, and had enormous box office success. The Mermaid became the highest-grossing Chinese film of all time. And it got around the prohibition of films about the supernatural by reclassifying itself as a science-fiction movie. Likewise, Barbara Wong Chun-Chun, who started her career as an independent film-maker with thought-provoking movies such as Womens Private Parts (2000), a documentary discussion of female sexuality, has now abandoned small-budget productions to make some of the most successful Chinese movies. Her film The Secret (2016) is a love story among what seem to be ghosts, but could get into theatres thanks to its final line: when one of the characters wakes up from a coma, she asks if she dreamed it all.

Was it all just a dream? The Secret (2016), directed by Barbara Wong Chun-Chun.

You have to try to understand Chinas censorship, says Wong. In Hong Kong you have category I, II and III movies. In China, there is no such system. So you must make movies that a five year old can watch without feeling scared. Can you make a movie with a bad cop in it in China? Of course. But then he has to end up in jail. Can you have much blood? No. A kid is going to see it. Foreigners who want to make movies in China need to understand the country first.

Say you want to make a film about corruption, Wong continues. Its a sensitive theme. But the regulations are blurry, you can tackle things in a different way: shoot a film where the corruption is in America, not in China. Then its OK. As an artist, you must find ways of getting around it.

Another limitation is established by Chinese moviegoers own tastes. Roger Garcia, executive director of the Hong Kong film festival, says: In China, you are making either a romance or a big special-effects movie. If you want to do horror, or other genres, you cannot be in China. You can make a budget sci-fi movie in Hollywood, but Chinese audiences will not like that. They like huge, costly productions. So I think that China should not be the total sum of everything, it is a mistake. It is limiting. For Hong Kong, it was a mistake to obsess about China. And things are changing now that Hollywood is doing the same.

Johnnie To agrees that film-makers are presented with a difficult choice: You have to recognise that China is way more open now. The first film I shot there was in 1978 the change is obvious, very big. Milkyway Image, his production company in Kwun Tong, the movie district of Hong Kong, has produced films that have been allowed into the mainland, as well as others that were banned like the recent Trivisa (2016), co-directed by Ten Years Jevons Au.

First of all, says To, you must ask yourself: can China accept this movie? We are different in Hong Kong, we are free, we can do and say what we want. Not them. So, you must be prepared to accept their point of view. But you cannot escape this fact: today, if you want to make a big budget movie, you can no longer make it only for Hong Kong.

Trivisia (2016), directed by Johnny To and Jevons Au, has been banned in China.

Does it mean compromises? Yes, very many. But the alternative is no movie in China. There are many political issues that China is still stuck with, because it has an old-fashioned system of government, and even if there is more freedom than there used to be, the Communist party is unable to relax. Yet you see it very clearly everybody is ready to shut up to make money.

Despite Tos high profile, some of his films were denied a release in China. Neither Election (2005) nor Election 2 (2006), which deal with power struggles in a triad gang, made it. I am going to wait until I am 65 to make Election 3, says To, now 61, as I already know that, after that, I will be banned from China. But it will be OK: Ill be able to really describe the rot in our government through that film.

While film industries from Hollywood and Italy to the UK and India continue to court this booming source of revenue, To is not optimistic about cinema. To make it really big, a film has to be one the Chinese censors can approve, he says. The range of films that the world will get to see will be restricted.

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