A fairly recent episode of The Simpsons that contains a reference to China’s use of forced labor camps has vanished from the Disney Plus streaming service in Hong Kong. First spotted by the Financial Times and later confirmed by Axios, the episode titled “One Angry Lisa” is not available to stream on Disney Plus, even though the rest of The Simpsons’ 34th season is. The episode contains a line critical of the country — “Behold the wonders of China: Bitcoin mines, forced labor camps where children make smartphones.”
Though it is a punchline in The Simpsons, China has been repeatedly criticized by external governments and human rights organizations for allegedly detaining millions of its native Uyghur population and other Muslim minorities in so-called “reeducation centers” in the northwestern Xinjiang region. Those imprisoned in these camps are reportedly subjected to torture such as waterboarding and sexual abuse as part of the Chinese government’s indoctrination programs and are exploited for cheap labor. China has continually denied these allegations.
This is the second episode of The Simpsons to be removed from Disney Plus in Hong Kong
Disney has not disclosed its reasons behind pulling The Simpsons episode in Hong Kong, and it isn’t clear if the removal was at the direct request of Chinese authorities or a proactive move to protect its business interests in mainland China. The company has had a rocky relationship with China in recent years, with almost every movie released by Disney-owned Marvel Studios in the last three years not being shown in the country. We have reached out to Disney to clarify why the episode was pulled and will update this story should we hear back.
The entertainment giant has a previous history of conforming to the demands of China’s state censors, sometimes editing portions of its TV series and movies to ensure it’s permitted to be released in the region. One such example is the decision to not include any references to Tibet (which China insists isn’t an independent country) in Doctor Strange, despite its significance to the comic book source material. This also isn’t the first time that an episode of The Simpsons has been removed from Disney Plus. Episode 12 of season 16, titled “Goo Goo Gai Pan,” was pulled in 2021 for containing a reference to the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.