Thursday, May 26

‘Apple Daily’: The word from Beijing | Opinion

People queuing to buy the latest issue of the 'Apple Daily' newspaper, in downtown Hong Kong.
People queuing to buy the latest issue of the ‘Apple Daily’ newspaper, in downtown Hong Kong.DPA via Europa Press / Europa Press

The closure of the Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily it is another proof of the systematic undemocratic suffocation to which the Beijing regime is unceremoniously subjecting what should be an autonomous territory under its sovereignty. Founded in 1995, two years before Hong Kong ceased to be a British colony to be returned to China, the Apple Daily in recent years it had become the loudspeaker against the curtailment of individual and collective freedoms that Beijing is enforcing in Hong Kong and that has accelerated significantly since the arrival of Xi Jinping to the presidency of China in 2013. Born as a tabloid tabloid in the style of those existing in the United Kingdom, he had been gaining prestige for his defense of democracy and the denunciation of the legal and police repression through which the autonomous government – elected, but with candidates previously filtered by the regime – is persecuting dissent.

The same newspaper has been a direct victim of this policy and the coup de grace came last Thursday, when, in application of the controversial National Security Law – enacted last year – some 500 policemen broke into its headquarters, seized almost fifty computers arrested several company executives on charges of collaborating with foreign forces and blocked the media’s current accounts, so that it has no longer been possible to pay salaries. Days later one of his editorialists was arrested and the authorities threatened more arrests. With no further exit, the company decided to close the newspaper. It had become the second most widely read in the former colony and its latest issue has had an exceptional circulation of one million copies.

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The persecution of the independent press is but another link in an alarming succession of actions and legislative provisions that are effectively destroying the freedoms of Hong Kong citizens. Freedoms that China solemnly promised to respect until at least 2047 in the treaty it signed with the United Kingdom for the cession of territory. Then, Beijing upheld the formula of “one country, two systems” as a guarantee that Hong Kong’s peculiarities would be respected. The facts show that this has not been the case and the nationalist line imposed by Xi Jinping has accelerated a process of forced assimilation that constitutes a violation of the basic rights of the citizens of the territory. Beijing is getting used in Hong Kong to a fait accompli policy insensitive to protests of any kind. Not only does it unfortunately compress freedoms, but it goes against its own word, a fact that does not go unnoticed on the international scene and that has a serious cost for a country that aspires to be a global power.

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