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'Hong Kong’s Apple Daily newspaper folds under government pressure'

South China Morning Post (SCMP)

Malcolm Riddell

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CHINADebate

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'Hong Kong’s Apple Daily newspaper folds under government pressure'
'Hong Kong’s Apple Daily newspaper folds under government pressure'
A line to buy the last Apple Daily on Thursday. One purchaser said he was looking for “memories of the freedom we used to have to say things in Hong Kong.”
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BIG IDEA | Apple Daily was much more than a newspaper. To its fans, it was a defender of freedoms. To its foes, it was the defiler of national sovereignty.’

SCMP. ‘Is Apple Daily more than a newspaper?’

‘Critics loathed its sensationalist, pro-opposition and anti-China slant. ‘

  • ‘But loyal readers loved its fearless reporting against those in power, and advancing its own understanding of what democracy ought to look like – unfettered and unbound by Beijing.’

‘Yet, there was a rare consensus among both sides: Apple Daily was much more than a newspaper.’

  • ‘To its fans, it was a defender of freedoms.’
  • ‘To its foes, it was the defiler of national sovereignty.’

‘In the end, its foes had the final say, media scholars noted on Wednesday, as the tabloid-style publication shut its digital operations at midnight and its presses rolled out its final edition for Thursday.’

FT.  ‘Hundreds of Hong Kongers queued for hours to buy the final edition of Apple Daily on Thursday morning, a day after the pro-democracy newspaper closed following the arrests of senior journalists and the government freezing its assets.’

  • ‘Apple Daily printed 1m copies of its final edition on Thursday, far more than its usual circulation of about 150,000 copies.’
  • ‘At some newsstands, the lines were hundreds deep.’

‘Its closure has been viewed as a marker of the deterioration of civic freedoms and crackdown on political opposition in the city after China imposed a tough national security law last year following pro-democracy protests in 2019.’

‘Hong Kong authorities have accused the paper and its executives of endangering national security by publishing calls for sanctions against the city and its officials following the 2019 protests.’

WAPO. ‘Last week, police raided the newspaper’s offices for the second time in a year, arresting five executives, including three of Apple Daily’s top editors.’

  • ‘The action, which involved 500 officers, was the first time police explicitly targeted Apple Daily’s news operations, confiscating boxes full of journalistic materials and searching reporters’ computers.’
  • ‘On Wednesday, police arrested a 55-year-old opinion writerfor the paper who writes under the pseudonym Li Ping, the first time authorities have targeted a writer.’
  • ‘All have been arrested under the national security law for the broadly worded crime of conspiring to collude with foreign forces, one of four offenses under the law punishable by life in prison.’

‘The Hong Kong government also froze Apple Daily’s assets and ordered banks to stop processing payments to staff or vendors.’

  • ‘Under the weight of the asset seizure — and citing fears that its reporters could continue to be arrested — Next Digital, Apple Daily’s publisher, announced ‘Wednesday that it would cease operations this week, with its last print edition Thursday.’

‘The newspaper’s founder, 73-year-old media tycoon Jimmy Lai, has been a constant target of the Chinese Communist Party, which has branded him a “riot leader,” “secessionist” and “traitor.” ’

‘Lai was among the first to be arrested under the security law and has also been charged for his role in other pro-democracy protests, including some that were peaceful.’

  • ‘Lai, who has been detained since December, built his fortune in the garment industry before founding Apple Daily and Next Digital.’
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