HK secessionist tabloid Apple Daily to end its edition on Thursday
Published: Jun 23, 2021 03:36 PM
Police escort deputy chief editor Chan Puiman (center) from the Apple Daily newspaper offices in Hong Kong on Thursday. Photo: VCG

Police escort deputy chief editor Chan Puiman (center) from the Apple Daily newspaper offices in Hong Kong on Thursday. Photo: VCG

After the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) arrested another staff member of Apple Daily on suspicion of violating the national security law, the pro-secessionist tabloid announced on Wednesday that it will issue its last edition on Thursday amid mounting financial pressure.

The HKPF arrested a 55-year-old man on suspicion of colluding with foreign forces and endangering national security, the police confirmed with the Global Times on Wednesday. Hong Kong media reports said the man is a columnist working for Apple Daily that is facing an imminent shutdown. 

The HKPF told the Global Times that the possibility of more people being arrested cannot be excluded. 

Hong Kong media said the man arrested was a columnist with the penname "Li Ping." He has become the latest staff member arrested from the tabloid founded and owned by the modern-day traitor Lai Chee-ying, also known as Jimmy Lai. Lai had been arrested on suspicion of violating the national security law, fraud and other offenses and been found guilty of organizing and attending illegal assemblies in 2019.

The board of Next Digital, parent company of Apple Daily, announced in a public statement on Wednesday that the tabloid will close down by Saturday. The latest decision comes amid mounting financial pressure to maintain normal operations. Shortly after the announcement, the Apple Daily said via its website that it will issue its last edition on Thursday, and its website will stop updating at midnight. 

Police arrested Apple Daily editor-in-chief Ryan Law Wai-kwong, Cheung Kim-hung, CEO of Next Digital, the company's chief operating officer Chow Tat-kuen and deputy chief editor Chan Puiman, as well as chief executive editor Cheung Chi-wai on June 17 and froze HK$18 million ($2.3 million) in assets.

While some foreign journalists and observers lamented the closure of Apple Daily on social media, claiming the matter "as an end of era," Chinese experts said it's indeed the end of era when foreign proxies and secessionist forces meddling in China's internal affairs in instigating the color revolution in Hong Kong exit the political life for good. 

Apple Daily and its relevant news services are actually an illegal, anti-govt political institutes going against the journalistic standards, as they accept the external political funds in supporting anti-government parties in Hong Kong, instigating rioting activities and manipulating local elections, Tian Feilong, an associate professor at Beihang University's law faculty and a member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

"The so-called press agency is just an identity for covering up its true intention and by using so-called freedom of press, it gained sympathy of the public. The national security law for Hong Kong renewed the boundaries and standards of rule of law in Hong Kong," Tian said, noting that though the law follows the principle of non-retroactivity, it accurately regulates and punishes anti-China forces creating chaos in Hong Kong such as Apple Daily. 

There have been editorials from Apple Daily, with the byline of "Li Ping," calling the arrests of Lai and police search of the tabloid office as "suppressions" which "will induce fear," according to an opinion article published in August 2020. Li Ping has also referred to the law enforcement under the national security law for Hong Kong as a tool being used to deprive the freedom of the press. The editorials largely echoed views from some Western politicians and media outlets denouncing and smearing the Hong Kong authorities' legitimate moves in safeguarding the national security.

Next Magazine, a magazine under the Next Digital, announced it will halt its operations on Wednesday. It is the latest news services under the company to stop updating following the business news Apple Daily and its English version, which stopped updating on Tuesday.

On the occasions of celebrating the 24th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China and one year anniversary of national security law for Hong Kong taking effect, the exit of Apple Daily and the arrests of relevant personnel ensures the rule of law and "one country, two systems" in Hong Kong are better practiced in the city, unveiling a new era for Hong Kong in better integrating into country's overall development, Tian said.