Apple Daily closed, but press freedom stays in Hong Kong: Global Times editorial
Published: Jun 24, 2021 08:07 PM

Hong Kong rioters set fires in the street on September 7. Photo: GT

Hong Kong rioters set fires in the street on September 7. Photo: GT

Hong Kong's Apple Daily stopped publication after printing its final edition on Thursday. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, the European Union spokesperson, and some US lawmakers on Wednesday accused China of cracking down on freedom of the press regarding Apple Daily's closure. They also launched attacks on China's national security law for Hong Kong.

However, such attacks are too hackneyed to echo. What has happened in Hong Kong proves a Chinese saying that goes, "Thick mountains could not stop the river from flowing into the sea."

Apple Daily started two years before Hong Kong's return to China in 1997. Gradually, the newspaper became the base camp of public opinion that mobilized resistance in Hong Kong to function by the spirit of the Basic Law, and promoted Hong Kong to act in collusion with the China policies of countries like the US and the UK. The outlet has greatly exceeded the information function of the media and turned into a political revolt-seeker. It has been stirring up trouble and running in the frontline in Hong Kong's growing political turmoil.

No Western country would allow the existence of such a hub that manipulates public opinion to counter constitutional system of the country. Any media outlet that has gained inciting power to oppose the mainstream will not be spared. For example, after former US President Donald Trump's Twitter account was permanently shut down, his supporters gathered on the app Parler, which was banned for good.

We have to point out that Trump's account and Parler pose much less of a constitutional challenge to the US than what Apple Daily posed to Hong Kong's constitutional system. The former is a deviation, while the latter is blatant confrontation. The "silencing" of Trump reflects the extent to which anti-establishment dissent is truly tolerated in the US.

In European countries, people cannot see an influential media outlet that can perform like Apple Daily to instigate confrontation against the constitution. After the London riots in 2011, some government departments strengthened the regulation of social media. The role Apple Daily plays contradicts the freedom of the press the West advocates. It has not been "a media outlet with a political stance," but a newspaper which engages in extreme confrontational politics through media. 

On January 6, a group of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol. The blow dealt to US constitutionalism by such a confrontational and violent approach shocked the West. Imagine, if a US media outlet applauded and hailed the violence, calling for foreign governments to sanction the US for its suppression of the riots, and played a leading role in stirring public opinion every time, what consequences will it have? 

Freedom of the press is a good thing. The West's freedom of speech must be consistent with national interests and public security. However, the Western countries demand for Apple Daily to have the freedom to jeopardize Hong Kong's security and the national interests of China. They implant two opposite value orientations into two kinds of freedom of the press. When they are shouting for Apple Daily's "press freedom," they are tarnishing the world's media people's belief in this concept. 

We call on those who sympathize with Apple Daily to open their eyes. They need to jump out of the trap set by Western forces to understand a universal principle: Being consistent with the constitutional system should be the cornerstone of press freedom. Nothing in Hong Kong is allowed to confront the constitution. Any attempt to glorify the acts of confronting the constitution and Basic Law is doomed to fail. The shutdown of Apple Daily has clearly demonstrated this pattern. 

Western intervention in Apple Daily's shutdown is pale and weak. The intervention has also completely lost its moral force. It's a manifestation of the hypocrisy of the West's value system. The West is facing an increasing number of problems. They prioritize national interests at home, but demand the so-called "universal value" be put above all outside their countries. Such increasing incoherence will tear apart their hypocritical morality.