Apple Daily Hong Kong: Following the Pro-democracy Newspaper’s Final Days

Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “Apple Daily Hong Kong: Following the Pro-democracy Newspaper’s Final Days” – below is their description.

Hong Kong’s Apple Daily newspaper issued its last printed edition before shutting down its 26-year operation. Activists said goodbye in a dramatic midnight vigil as the pro-democracy tabloid became the latest victim in China’s campaign to silence dissent with the national security law.

Fung Wai-kong, the chief editorial writer for Apple Daily, was arrested Monday at Hong Kong’s airport, making him the seventh person swept up in a probe into the now-shuttered newspaper. Hong Kong police said in a statement that the city’s national security department held a 57-year-old man at Hong Kong International Airport for “conspiracy to collude with foreign forces to endanger national security,” without identifying Fung.

Locals gathered outside the paper’s headquarters to show their support last week, chanting and waving smartphone flashlights. They also lined up early June 24 to buy the newspaper’s final edition. Apple Daily said earlier it would stop operating due to concern over manpower and the safety of employees.

Quicktake followed photojournalist KT, who worked at the paper for 9 years. He decided to stay until the very end of the newspaper’s operation.

Over its 26 years, the paper owned by now-jailed media tycoon Jimmy Lai unearthed the hidden wealth of high-ranking Chinese Communist Party leaders and exposed the unethical practices of officials in Hong Kong. The newspaper was known for scoops and investigative coverage, and also for its racy reporting on entertainment, crime and celebrity gossip, including sensational paparazzi photos.

The arrests of Apple Daily editors and the closure of the popular pro-democracy tabloid have been condemned widely by human rights organizations and foreign governments. U.S. President Joe Biden called the Apple Daily’s closure a “sad day for media freedom in Hong Kong and around the world,” and said that under the security law “Beijing has insisted on wielding its power to suppress independent media and silence dissenting views.”

The version of Apple Daily published in Taiwan has said it will continue operating as normal. Taiwanese Vice President William Lai said the Hong Kong paper’s closure left him saddened.

Former Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying — who has said the sweeping changes Beijing made to the city’s election system this year would allow for housing issues to be resolved — cheered the demise of the publication.

U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called on China to respect the basic freedoms of the people of Hong Kong.

“We certainly view what’s been happening with the closure of the Apple Daily and the arrest of journalists very, very seriously,” he said during a virtual press conference while on a visit to Singapore. “It is part of the ongoing failure to comply with the joint declaration by China — a series of commitments to respect their freedoms and the people of Hong Kong. That’s reflected in the Basic Law, and we call on China to respect the terms that it freely signed up to.”

China hit back, with Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian saying at a regular press briefing in Beijing that the U.K. is interfering in Hong Kong politics without regard for order in the city.

“The Chinese government administers Hong Kong on the basis of its own constitution and the Basic Law, not the Sino-British Joint Declaration,” he said. “No foreign country is in a position to make irresponsible remarks on Hong Kong-related affairs and China’s internal affairs.

China has used a national security law imposed on Hong Kong last year to silence democracy activists and other prominent voices that challenge its rule, generating criticism from the West. Authorities last week arrested Apple Daily’s three top editors and two executives at Next Digital Ltd., which publishes it, with some 500 police officers descending on the company’s offices.

Two arrested Apple Daily managers — Editor-in-Chief Ryan Law and Deputy Editor Cheung Chi-wai — filed a lawsuit against the police questioning the legality of their arrests warrants and requested all seized journalistic material be returned, according to court documents.

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