China’s party mouthpiece calls for ban on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy newspaper as assets freeze leaves it struggling

Police officers gather at the headquarters of the Apple Daily pro-democracy newspaper in Hong Kong, China, June 17, 2021. (Photo courtesy: Reuters)

(, Jun21’21) – Hong Kong pro-democracy paper Apple Daily could be forced to shut down in a “matter of days” and China’s party mouthpiece suggested Jun 20 that a permanent ban on the publication is only to be expected.

Hong Kong authorities last week froze HK$18m ($2.3m) of assets owned by three companies linked to Apple Daily. As a result, an adviser of the paper’s jailed founder Jimmy Lai has said the newspaper could be forced to shut down in a “matter of days”.

Apple Daily has said Jun 20 said it only had enough cash to continue normal operations for “several weeks”, reported Jun 21.

“The paper is still on the newsstands today but it is only a matter of days before it won’t be there unless its bank accounts are unfrozen,” adviser Mark Simon was quoted as saying.

“If you don’t have money you can’t order services. Most importantly, you can’t promise to pay people when you don’t have access to the cash to cover those expenses. That’s illegal in Hong Kong,” Simon has said.

Lai is serving jail sentences for a series of convictions for supporting the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, accused of being in violations of China’s draconian national security law for Hong Kong.

Five executives of Apple Daily were taken away during a police raid on its newsroom on Jun 17, with two of them being charged and three being released on bail pending investigations.

China’s party mouthpiece Jun 20 cheered the Hong Kong authorities’ actions, saying “lawyers and experts in Hong Kong consider the suspension of the paper’s operation and a complete shutdown as a legitimate and necessary move given its misdeeds on suspicion of violating the national security law amid rising calls for a clampdown on this ‘poisoned Apple’.”

The report said officials from both the central government and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government had denounced “the paper’s true intention of challenging the national security law by using ‘freedom of speech’ as ‘a shield’,” saying “no right or freedom, including that of press, can cross the line of national security.”

It cited “some legal experts in Hong Kong” as saying it was time to shut down Apple Daily, “as rather than being a media outlet, the paper has become a radical anti-government tool in spreading lies and hatred by running eye-catching, seditious claims with bias to achieve political goals, and it had not abandoned its attempts of colluding with foreign forces since the national security law for Hong Kong came into force.”


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