June 29, 2021

Apple Daily

“The final edition of Hong Kong’s last remaining pro-democracy paper sold out in hours [last] Thursday… The newspaper said it was forced to cease operations after police froze $2.3 million of its assets, searched its office and arrested five top editors and executives last week, accusing them of foreign collusion to endanger national security.” AP News

Both sides criticize the Chinese government and call for the US to respond:

“This is the darkest moment yet for press freedom in the region. Its chilling effect, not only on the media, but even private discussion, is profound. But journalists anticipate a further crackdown… The public service broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong has seen programmes pulled and its head replaced by a career bureaucrat without media experience, while one of its producers was recently convicted of criminal conduct for accessing a public database while investigating police misconduct. A ‘fake news’ law is on the way. Police have gained new internet censorship powers and censors have been told to vet films for content that might infringe the national security law…

“Yet hundreds of well-wishers gathered at the Apple Daily building on its final night, and long queues formed at newsstands on Thursday to snap up its farewell edition. A million copies, more than 10 times its usual print run, were produced to meet demand. The spirit of resistance in Hong Kong is wounded but struggles on. How long it can survive, without the free flow of information, is another matter.”
Editorial Board, The Guardian

“Hong Kong’s freedom is being snuffed out. It is against our values and our interests to remain a bystander… The Biden administration recently banned the importation of solar panel material from a Chinese company accused of benefiting from slave labor in the Muslim-dominated province of Xinjiang. A similar step for Hong Kong would be to extend existing sanctions against a few Hong Kong individuals and firms much more broadly…

“U.S. leadership could also make Hong Kong’s political prisoners a key element in broader U.S.-China relations. American presidents regularly sought the release of prominent Soviet dissidents and tied improvement in relations to improvement in the conditions that dissidents faced within the Soviet Union. President Biden should demand the release of prominent pro-democracy figures such as entrepreneur Jimmy Lai as part of ongoing discussions with the Chinese and Hong Kong governments.”
Henry Olsen, Washington Post

“Perhaps one thing we could do is follow the example of Great Britain and set up some sort of expedited visa program that would allow residents of Hong Kong to emigrate to the United States on short notice. I’m sure most of them don’t want to surrender their homeland to the Chinese, but once you have a taste of freedom it’s very hard to give it up. Maybe they would come to enjoy living in [America] after they have time to adjust and become vocal critics of the governments in both Hong Kong and mainland China.”
Jazz Shaw, Hot Air

The representative for Apple Daily’s majority shareholder writes, “The lifeblood of any financial center is the rule of law and free flow of information. Advocating for democracy was only part of what Apple Daily filled its pages with. Our business pages were often described as a scandal sheet. Many of the corporate elites and tycoons despised the paper for our reporting on their activities — something companies and executives in China do not have to worry about. Yet when was exposure and reporting not a benefit to free and open financial markets?…

“China has a very different understanding of the relationship between business and the government than we have in the United States. Businesses are assumed to do what China wants, whether that means turning over technology or personal data. This makes the scrutiny and exposure provided by a free press all the more important to keeping Hong Kong a free and open financial market… Jimmy Lai often told us, ‘No free press, no free market.’ Those in the international business community who believe the closure of Apple Daily will have no impact on them are about to learn this lesson the hard way.”
Mark Simon, Washington Post

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