The outspoken tabloid’s closure is a chilling moment. But as Beijing silences dissent, the spirit of resistance endures
Apple Daily is dead. At midnight on Wednesday, Hong Kong’s biggest pro-democracy news outlet closed, forced out of business after authorities froze the assets of the 26-year-old tabloid and arrested executives and journalists. Through its outspoken support for protests, it had come to stand for resistance itself: for the freedom to know what is happening, to challenge authorities, and to imagine and demand another Hong Kong.
Beijing is determined to crush that resistance. Each day it turns the screws further. Many have fallen silent already, but Apple Daily was defiant. Its owner, Jimmy Lai, already jailed over a protest, could face life in prison due to further charges under the draconian national security law. The editor-in-chief and chief executive of its parent company have been charged with conspiracy to collude with “external elements” after 500 officers raided its headquarters last week. Authorities say that the case relates to articles calling for sanctions on the Hong Kong and Chinese governments, some published before the imposition of the security law, which is not supposed to be retroactive. This vindictive action marks the criminalisation of journalism. On Wednesday, the company announced it was closing overnight, citing employee safety and staffing levels after officers arrested its lead opinion writer.