The Big Ideas

by Malcolm Riddell

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

South China Morning Post (SCMP)

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June 24, 2021
'Hong Kong’s Apple Daily newspaper folds under government pressure'
'Hong Kong’s Apple Daily newspaper folds under government pressure'
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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.”

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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Malcolm Riddell
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'Are you tired of losing yet, America?'

As I write this, Taliban forces have entered Kabul and are reportedly occupying the Presidential Palace.
8/15/2021

Bloomberg

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'China Signals More Regulation for Businesses in Coming Years'

‘The State Council’s statement provides a guiding context to interpret current regulatory thrusts. The blueprint as an attempt by Chinese authorities to help investors understand the motives behind the regulatory push.’
8/15/2021

The Wall Street Journal

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George Soros
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'Xi’s Dictatorship Threatens the Chinese State'

‘Mr. Xi is determined to bring the creators of wealth under the control of the one-party state.’
8/15/2021

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Malcolm Riddell
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Don't Say Xi Jinping Didn't Warn You

‘Global investors are shocked to have discovered that China is run by Communists.’
8/5/2021

Bloomberg

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Matthew Brooker | Bloomberg
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‘Global investors shocked to have discovered that China is run by Communists.’

‘Global investors are shocked to have discovered that China is run by Communists.’
8/5/2021

Bloomberg

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'Shocked Investors Scour Xi’s Old Speeches to Find Next Target'

‘While China’s policy moves can feel ad hoc particularly to foreign investors, the changes are quite targeted on certain sectors.’
8/5/2021

The Wall Street Journal

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Greg Ip | The Wall Street Journal
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'China Wants Manufacturing—Not the Internet—to Lead the Economy'

‘Social media, e-commerce and other consumer internet companies are nice to have. But in his view national greatness doesn’t depend on having the world’s finest group chats or ride-sharing.’
8/5/2021

Bloomberg

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'China Plans to Exempt H.K. IPOs From Cybersecurity Reviews'

‘China plans to exempt companies going public in Hong Kong from first seeking the approval of the country’s cybersecurity regulator, removing one hurdle for businesses that list in the Asian financial hub instead of the U.S.’
7/18/2021

The Wall Street Journal

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The Editorial Board | The Wall Street Journal
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'Biden’s Warning on Hong Kong'

‘The pretense of Chinese and Hong Kong authorities is that their crackdown on the rule of law and dissent will have no effect on Hong Kong’s viability as an international center for trade and finance.’
7/18/2021

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Malcolm Riddell
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Why the U.S. Lacks Leverage over China

During the celebration of the Chinese Communist Party’s Centennial celebration, Mr. Xi stood in the same place on the balcony facing Tiananmen Square where Mao Zedong stood when he announced the founding of the PRC; Mr. Xi wore a gray Mao suit, among a sea of blue western suits; and he centered himself right above the portrait of Mao, who is similarly attired.
7/18/2021

Foreign Affairs

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Kurt Tong | Asia Group
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Hong Kong and the Limits of Decoupling

‘The United States’ inability to make China regret—much less reverse—its transgressions in Hong Kong suggests that financial separation, sanctions, and economic barriers are less reliable tools than many in Washington believe.’
7/18/2021

Nikkei Asia

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'I will aim for Mao's Status.'

‘There on the gate was Xi Jinping, Chinese president and party general secretary, in a gray Mao suit. Just below his feet was the portrait of Mao Zedong, also dressed in a gray Mao suit.’
7/18/2021

Financial Times

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'US warns companies of risk of doing business in Hong Kong'

“In the face of Beijing’s decisions over the past year that have stifled the democratic aspirations of people in Hong Kong, we are taking action,” said Antony Blinken, US secretary of state. “Today we send a clear message that the US resolutely stands with Hong Kongers.”
7/18/2021

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Malcolm Riddell
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The Chinese Point of View

Here are a few of my thoughts on the importance of Wang Jisi’s ‘The Plot Against China.’ Yuen Yuen Ang’s ‘The Evolution of Chinese Corruption’ speaks for itself - but note especially how Mr. Xi's anti-corruption campaign could hurt China's economy. I have now lived long enough that when a friend complains about his or her spouse, I say to myself, ‘There are no doubt two sides to this story.’
7/4/2021

Foreign Affairs

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Wang Jisi | President of the Institute of International and Strategic Studies at Peking University
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'How Beijing Sees U.S.-China Relations'

‘In Chinese eyes, the most significant threat to China’s sovereignty and national security has long been U.S. interference in its internal affairs aimed at changing the country’s political system and undermining the CCP.’
7/4/2021

Foreign Affairs

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Yuen Yuen Ang | University of Michigan
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'How Corruption Powers China's Economy'

‘China has managed to sustain four decades of economic growth despite levels of corruption that even Xi has described as “grave” and “shocking.” Why does it seem to have bucked the trend?’
7/4/2021

Harvard Magazine

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Ed Steinfeld | Brown University
Tony Saich
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Harvard Kennedy School of Government
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'From Rebel to Ruler': Tony Saich on Chinese Communism at 100

‘At so many points during its century-long existence, the CCP appeared to be in its death throes, whether as a result of external attack or self-inflicted internal strife.’
7/1/2021