The Simpsons have been travelling around the world for decades. As one of the most popular and longest-running television shows of all time, it’s no surprise that they made their way to China at least once. In the 12th episode of season 16, the family visits Tiananmen Square. In the Hong Kong version of the Disney+ streaming service, the episode is curiously missing, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The Simpsons travelled to China to attempt to adopt a baby. They visit the infamous mass protest site in the episode. In 1989, student protestors were decimated by Chinese military forces in tanks. In the episode, the writers mocked China’s response, showing a placard that reads, “On this site, in 1989, nothing happened.”

Activists have long accused the Chinese government of attempting to curtail the autonomy and freedoms of Hong Kong. A new law passed earlier this year makes it illegal for shows to breach mainland national security standards. The removal of the episode could be a preemptive response to official censorship.

Disney+ launched in Hong Kong earlier this month. Fans were quick to note omisions and removals of “controversial” material. This is one of the most obvious instances of content being blackballed on the service.


Disney will likely face criticism for kowtowing to the Chinese government. The fact of the matter is, though, that the region is a huge emerging market. Much like when John Cena had to apologize to China, the risk of losing so much money appears to be enough to pressure creators, producers, and distributors into caving to Chinese Communist Party requests for censorship.

There is a fine line between supporting an oppressive regime and making a profit. Unfortunately, publicly traded companies do not have the luxury to rest on moral high ground. If it’s more profitable to give in to China, they’re legally obligated to do so. That doesn’t mean Disney shouldn’t expect major backlash as they continue to acquiesce to the regime.

Michael Perry

Michael Perry is a news contributor for Ringside News and Thirsty for News. Michael has an M.A. in Communication Technology from Point Park University in his hometown of Pittsburgh, PA.

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