AdvertisementThe swansong front page featured the paper's own journalists waving goodbye to crowds outside its headquarters."It's very shocking," a 30-year-old woman, who was in the queue and gave her first name as Candy, told AFP."Within two weeks, authorities could use this national security law to dismantle a listed company."
A few hours later, vendors were doing a roaring trade with commuters in Central, the financial heart of the city.Advertisement"It is all so sudden," a student, who gave his first name as Tim, told AFP."I think Hong Kong has entered a dark age."
ASSET FREEZEHong Kong's most popular tabloid had long been a thorn in Beijing's side, with unapologetic support for the city's pro-democracy movement and caustic criticism of China's authoritarian leaders.Those same leaders used a new security law to bring about its rapid demise. headtopics.com
Owner Jimmy Lai, currently in jail for attending democracy protests, was among the first to be charged under the law after its imposition last year.People queue to buy copies of the Apple Daily newspaper's final edition in Hong Kong's Central district on Jun 24, 2021. (Photo: AFP/Bertha Wang)
READ: Hong Kong leader says press must not 'subvert' governmentBut the final chapter was written over the last week when authorities deployed the security law to raid the newsroom, arrest senior executives and freeze its assets.That last move crippled the paper's ability to conduct business or pay staff and the news group decided Thursday's newspaper - a run of one million copies in a city of 7.5 million - would be its last.
Overnight it took down its website, Twitter and Facebook accounts.Some 1,000 people, including 700 journalists, are now out of work."Hong Kongers lost a media organisation that dared to speak up and insist on defending the truth," eight local journalist associations said in a joint statement, as they called on colleagues to dress in black on Thursday.
FORBIDDEN OPINIONSChina imposed its security law on Hong Kong last year after the city was convulsed by huge and often violent democracy protests in 2019.The prosecution of Apple Daily was sparked by articles and columns that allegedly supported international sanctions against China, a view now deemed illegal. headtopics.com
Staff members of Apple Daily and its publisher Next Digital pose with the final edition of Apple Daily at its headquarters in Hong Kong on June 24, 2021. (Photo: Reuters/Tyrone Siu)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.
On Wednesday, Yeung Ching-kee, one of the paper's top columnists, was arrested on the same charge.The decision to freeze Apple Daily's assets also laid bare the sweeping powers now at the disposal of authorities to pursue any company deemed to be a national security threat.
Multiple international media companies have regional headquarters in Hong Kong, attracted to the business-friendly regulations and free speech provisions written into the city's mini-constitution.But many local and international outlets are questioning whether they have a future there.
FIRST TRIALHong Kong has plunged down an annual press freedom ranking by Reporters Without Borders, from 18th place in 2002 to 80th this year. Mainland China languishes at 177th out of 180, above only Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea.China and Hong Kong's authorities have hailed the security law for successfully restoring stability after the 2019 demonstrations and said media outlets must not"subvert" the government. headtopics.com
Authorities initially said the law would only target"a tiny minority".READ: Crackdown brings resignations at Hong Kong pro-democracy paper Apple DailyBut 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.
On Wednesday, the first trial under the new law got under way for a man accused of riding a motorbike into police officers.His trial is not being heard by a jury, a major departure from Hong Kong's common law traditions.His case is unusual because he is the only Hong Konger so far charged under the security law with an explicitly violent act.
More than 60 people have now been charged under the law, including some of the city's best-known democracy activists, but their offences are related to political views or speech that authorities have declared illegal. Read more: CNA »
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To be precise, 1million copies of them.
Hong Kong pro-democracy paper Apple Daily to print last edition on June 24
The rise and fall of Hong Kong's Apple DailyThis was the moment 500 officers raided Hong Kong 's Apple Daily , a beacon of media freedoms on the margins of Communist China.[ Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, saying:] 'Don't try to beautify these acts of endangering national security.'It's being widely seen as a direct attack on the city's freewheeling media and has come as a shock to those concerned about the erosion of Hong Kong 's freedoms.[Columnist Edward Chin]: '... it's a political crackdown and it's also playing some sort of psychological warfare. And shame on them if this is the way they want to see Hong Kong become.' Apple Daily was set up in 1995 by Jimmy Lai, a self-made textiles tycoon who was jailed in April for joining unauthorized rallies.The splashy Chinese-language tabloid became a runaway commercial success read by dissidents and a more liberal Chinese diaspora.The paper features a mix of celebrity gossip, investigations of the powerful and pro-democracy editorials and is known for repeatedly challenging Beijing's rising authoritarianism.Last year's security law was Beijing's first major move to put Hong Kong on an authoritarian path. Apple Daily 's advocacy of democratic rights and freedoms had made it a thorn in Beijing's side. Hong Kong 's police chief warned in April that media outlets that endanger national security through 'fake news' would be investigated.The newsroom began bracing for a crackdown, reporters have since told Reuters.Most staff received cards with lawyer contacts and news materials were firewalled or sent abroad to protect information and sources.On June 4, authorities banned the annual candlelight vigil in downtown Victoria Park to commemorate the deadly 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. Apple Daily 's front page the next day read: 'You can close Victoria Park. But not lock people's hearts.'The raid came on June 17.Police arrested five executives, including chief editor Ryan Law and CEO Cheung Kim-hung.Authorities also froze $2.3 million of Apple's assets.Three days later the paper mar
UPDATE 3-Hong Kong's Next Digital says Apple Daily newspaper to end by Saturday Hong Kong 's pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily will stop operating no later than Saturday, its publisher, Next Digital, said on Wednesday after national security police arrested another employee of the besieged newspaper. The end of the popular 26-year-old tabloid, which mixes pro-democracy discourse with racy celebrity gossip and investigations of those in power, has escalated alarm over media freedom and other rights in the Chinese-ruled city. In a statement on its website, Next Digital said the decision to close the newspaper, which employs about 600 journalists, was taken 'due to the current circumstances prevailing in Hong Kong .'
Crackdown brings resignations at embattled Hong Kong pro-democracy paper
Turkmenistan capital tops Hong Kong as world's costliest: SurveyTurkmenistan's capital Ashgabat has overtaken Hong Kong as the world's most expensive city for foreign workers, a survey showed on Tuesday.
Hong Kong man arrested after passer-by calls police over protest banner hanging on drying rackA 40-year-old man has been arrested in Hong Kong after a pedestrian called police about a banner carrying a protest slogan deemed problematic by the authorities under the national security law. Police were alerted at about 2pm on Monday by the passer-by who complained that a banner with the slogan “Liberate Hong Kong ; revolution of our times” was hanging on a drying rack outside a flat on Fife Street in Mong Kok. 2 years after Hong Kong mass protests, will the unrest return? About 20 officers we