A politically sensitive Hong Kong movie banned by Chinese officials has received an enthusiastic response in Taiwan.

The Hong Kong film “Ten Years” debuted last December and was released in Taiwan on Aug. 5. Despite only showing at four theaters, the film has attracted significant audiences and grossed NT$500,000 (US$15,000) at the box office, making it one of the best-performing art movies in Taiwan this year.

“Ten Years” was banned in China in January, presumably for being highly politically sensitive. Taiwan, which enjoys an open media environment, has long been a key audience for publications and movies banned in China.

Ng Ka-leung (梁鈺傑), the film’s director and producer, said the ban has probably helped ticket sales in Taiwan.

The movie comprises five chapters, depicting Hong Kong in 2025 under China's control. Before it was released in Taiwan, at least one commentator predicted the film would have an impact on public opinion about China’s "one country-two systems" formula.

Chang Cheng (張正), founder of 4-Way Voice, a website that focuses on issues facing Southeast Asian migrants, says he is a little disappointed about the movie for providing only a few perspectives on Hong Kong-China relations. He says Taiwanese should try to positively influence China “instead of fully rejecting Chinese.”

Commenting on the "extremes" that the protesters depicted in the film were willing to go to, Wu Ting-kuan (吳廷寬), who has worked in bookstores in Taiwan and Hong Kong, says that to be successful in the long-term, protesters need to be "rational" and "passionate," but not angry.

Chen (陳), a Taiwanese dental student interviewed by the HongKong01 website after seeing the film, says he was curious about Hong Kong’s political status and future prospects. Another Taiwanese audience member says she saw the film because she believes the political fates of Taiwan and Hong Kong’s will be intertwined in the coming 10 years.

In an interview about the film, Chang Tie-zih (張鐵志), founder of the TWReporter and editor in chief of the City Magazine in Hong Kong, says that while there are similarities between Taiwan and Hong Kong’s political situation, there are also key differences. Many Hong Kongers view Taiwan as an example to follow, but Chang does not totally agree with this point of view.

“Democracy exists in Taiwan so the young generation can change their political environment by voting,” he says. However, young people in Hong Kong are not as lucky. “They are more severely controlled than in Taiwan.”

Chang sees pros and cons in Taiwan’s democratic system, saying that Taiwan should not be the only role model for Hong Kong. And he notes, “Taiwan has made mistakes on its path to democracy.”

He says, China is “more complicated” than some people think,” and Taiwan and Hong Kong need to understand it more, not simply push it away.

“Promoting local consciousness is not necessarily in conflict with understanding China,” he says, adding that more communication will be essential for a peaceful political transition.

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole