Last week, Apple Daily, the largest pro-democracy newspaper in Hong Kong, announced it will shut down. The organization’s management said it decided to cease operations “in view of staff members’ safety.”
The tabloid’s decision was likely influenced by the fact that the Hong Kong Police Force raided the newspaper’s offices a few weeks ago. Government officials allege that Apple Daily violated a highly controversial national security law that China is using to extend political influence in Hong Kong.
Apple Daily was right to fear for its employees’ safety. Just four days after Apple Daily was forced to shut down, a senior journalist was arrested at the airport Sunday where he attempted to leave the city.
According to news sources, the journalist is being accused of “conspiring to collude with foreign countries or foreign sources to endanger national security.” The 57-year-old man, who has not been identified by the police, may serve up to life in prison. Many believe it is Fung Wai-kong, an editor at Apple Daily.
This is reportedly the seventh Apple Daily employee police have arrested in recent weeks.
A group of bipartisan senators has urged President Joe Biden to impose sanctions on the Chinese Communist Party for rolling back numerous freedoms in Hong Kong.
In a statement released June 24, Biden said, “It is a sad day for media freedom in Hong Kong and around the world.” He said the United States will support Hong Kong, but does not describe how.
China has increased pressure on Hong Kong since last June when that controversial national security law passed. Many argue that this law is really a tool to help the Chinese government crack down on pro-democracy advocates in the former British colony.
Due to increasing influence from the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing and local officials’ resulting loss of policy autonomy, Hong Kong was dropped from the 2021 Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom. From 1995 to 2019, it was rated the freest economy in the world.
Watching the citizens of this longtime bastion of freedom in what seems increasingly to be a losing struggle to hold onto basic human rights is a sad sight to see.
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