Saturday, 31 July, 2021


Hong Kong's last pro-democracy paper publishes final edition

Police officers raid the Apple Daily office on June 17 in Hong Kong Pro-democracy Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily closing down
Patty Aguilar | 24 June, 2021, 07:02

Under the security law, no court order or conviction is required for the government to freeze a company's assets and Apple Daily has since said on Wednesday that the following day's newspaper will be its final edition.

The silencing of a prominent pro-democracy voice was the latest sign of China's determination to exert greater control over the city long known for its freedoms after huge anti-government protests there in 2019 shook the government.

"Apple Daily decided that the paper will cease operations from midnight and tomorrow (24th) will be the last publication day", the paper wrote on its website.

But it has radically transformed the political and legal landscape of a city that China promised would be able to keep key liberties and autonomy after its 1997 return by Britain.

A man accused of driving a motorcycle into police officers while carrying a Hong Kong protest flag has become the first person to stand trial under the national security law implemented a year ago as China's central government tightened control over the city.

What is the national security law?

. "I was also sad that Hong Kong might not have Apple Daily but I also felt fear".

An adviser for Jimmy Lai, the Hong Kong billionaire and founder of Next Digital, called the raid a "blatant attack". At first, the newspaper gained little attention.

Since the law was enacted in June, more than 100 people have been arrested under its provisions.

Hong Kong's Judiciary describes trial by jury as one of the most important features of the city's legal system, a common law tradition created to offer defendants additional protection against the possibility of authorities overreaching their power.

The security law makes calls for Hong Kong independence illegal, and a government notice last July said the "Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times" slogan connotes a call for independence and subversion of state power.

Earlier this year, officials gutted the city's public broadcaster, Radio Television Hong Kong, by letting go reporters, axing shows considered critical of the government and appointing a new editor-in-chief with no media experience.

In a post on Instagram, the paper thanked its readers.

On Monday, an adviser to Lai told Reuters Apple Daily would be forced to shut "in a matter of days".

The decision to close the newspaper was expected after the arrests and asset seizure.

It said the decision was "based on employee safety and manpower considerations".

Lai, chief editor Ryan Law and CEO Cheung Kim-hung have all been charged with colluding with foreign forces to undermine China's national security and remanded into custody.

Cédric Alviani, the East Asia bureau head of Reporters Without Borders, said that the worldwide community should apply more pressure on the China and Hong Kong governments to stop the silencing of "one of the last independent voices and beacons of press freedom in Hong Kong".

Those same leaders used a new security law to bring about its rapid demise.

Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai, who has always been a critic of the Chinese Communist Party, is already in jail on a string of charges.

Also, the trial of Tong Ying-kit began on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, the first trial under the new law got under way for a man accused of riding a motorbike into police officers.

Last issue of Apple Daily arrives at a newspaper booth in Hong Kong on June 24, 2021.

The move against Apple Daily drew criticism from the US, the European Union and Britain. Susan Shand adapted it for Learning English.

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