China defies the West by attacking the press in Hong Kong

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China defies the West by attacking the press in Hong Kong

Half a thousand policemen storm the headquarters of the pro-democracy newspaper ‘Apple Daily’ and arrest five executives in the name of the controversial national security law

Hong Kong police leave the 'Apple Daily' newspaper with a detainee and boxes with seized material./AFP

Just days after the G-7 and NATO warned China about the human rights violations and their ambitions, Beijing has defiantly punched the table. The largest attack perpetrated against press freedom in Hong Kong since the former British colony passed into the hands of the Asian giant in 1997 was forceful enough yesterday to make it clear that the regime will continue with its authoritarian drift, completely ignoring any criticism of West.

The events that occurred early in the morning at the headquarters of the pro-democracy daily ‘Apple Daily’ spoke for themselves of the deterioration of freedoms in Hong Kong since the controversial national security law came into force in June last year. More than 500 policemen stormed the newspaper, owned by jailed opponent Jimmy Lai, and arrested five of those responsible, including editor-in-chief Ryan Law and CEO Cheung Kim-hung on charges of “conspiracy with foreign forces”.

The raid could be broadcast live through the newspaper’s Facebook account, which in less than a year has already been registered twice. «They arrived around 7 this morning. Our building is fenced. Now we can see them carrying boxes of materials to their truck, “said a writer about the operation, in which the security forces, in addition to emptying the newsroom and checking computers and desks for five hours, frozen ‘Apple Daily’ assets for value of 2.3 million dollars [1.93 million euros] and searched the homes of the suspects.

In an attempt to justify the events, Police Chief John Lee accused ‘the tabloid press of using news coverage as a tool to undermine security». Specifically, he cited more than thirty writings from the ‘Apple Daily’, most of them comments or opinion articles, calling for sanctions against Hong Kong and China for violation of rights and freedoms. Never before has the content of the texts published in a media in the former British colony led to arrests.

In a message addressed to its readers, the newspaper warned that “the protection of the freedom of the press in Hong Kong it hangs by a thread. ‘ Even so, in response, they assured that “all the members of the ‘Apple Daily’ remain standing and firm”. In addition, they announced that they will print half a million copies of their newspaper today, more than five times the usual daily circulation, in anticipation of strong public support for their plight.

Angry EU and UK

The EU and the UK strongly condemned the Beijing attack. The raid “further demonstrates how the national security law to repress in Hong Kong, “denounced the spokeswoman for the community club for foreign affairs and security policy, Nabila Massrali. For his part, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab reminded China that “freedom of the press is one of the rights that it promised to protect in the Joint Declaration,” the agreement that guaranteed the autonomy of the former colony when it was handed over by London 24 years ago.

The ‘Apple Daily’ was seen by Beijing as an enemy medium for supporting the pro-democracy movement that Hong Kong experienced in 2019. As a result of these massive protests, China approved the questioned national security law, which criminalizes the bulk of the opposition and it has placed under arrest a hundred activists, who if convicted face life in prison.

Topics

Hong Kong, China, Beijing

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