Hong Kong’s Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) has apologised after it removed the dating systems used by the Republic of China (ROC) – Taiwan’s government – from old newspaper clippings at a music exhibition.

The department explained in a response to local media on Wednesday that the removal of the dates was done in order to accommodate the sizes of exhibition boards – and not out of any political consideration.

A newspaper dated 66th year of the Republic of China (1977), removed from the exhibit. Photo: Stand News.

The ROC uses a dating system which begins from its overthrowing of the Qing Dynasty in 1911. A number of Hong Kong newspapers continued using the system after its government fled to Taiwan in 1949.

The People’s Republic of China considers that the ROC is no longer in existence, and sees Taiwan as a province not yet unified with China owing to “historical reasons.”

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Beginning in April, the LCSD set up a series of short exhibitions at government venues and public libraries commemorating the 40th anniversary of the establishment of its Music Office.

Local paper Metro Daily reported on Wednesday that the date “66th year of the Republic of China” (1977) had been removed from clippings by Wah Kiu Daily News and Kung Sheung Daily News – both defunct Hong Kong newspapers supporting the Taiwan regime.

Metro Daily cited former Public Records Office head Chu Fuk-keung as saying that the removal of the dates was disrespectful towards history. “It is very sad… that even historical images have to be edited,” added Democratic Party legislator Roy Kwong.

Accommodate the sizes of exhibition boards

The LCSD told local media on Wednesday that it had removed the dates in order to accommodate the sizes of exhibition boards and to avoid reducing the actual content of the newspaper reports.

A Music Office summer camp in the 1980s. File photo: Music Office.

However, the department admitted that editing pages of newspapers was inappropriate: “This does not fully respect the truth and completeness of historical literature.”

The LCSD apologised and said it would provide updated content for the exhibitions as soon as possible.

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It is not the first time the department has been accused of censoring symbols of the ROC. Last March, it faced criticism after allegedly demanding that a member of a theatre company who graduated from Taipei National University of the Arts remove the word “national” from his biography.

The Hong Kong Federation of Taiwan Universities Alumni Association called the move an “insult”, and claimed the LCSD had no knowledge of Chinese history and cross-strait political relations.

Elson Tong

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.