Joe Biden calls closure of Hong Kong’s Apple Daily ‘sad day for media freedom’ – News Vibe24

    Joe Biden calls closure of Hong Kong's Apple Daily 'sad day for media freedom' - Times of India
    HONG KONG / WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden on Thursday described the closure of Hong Kong’s Apple Daily tabloid as a “sad day for media freedom” and said it signaled “intensification of repression” by China. maintain the support of the Chinese people – controlled area.
    In a statement following the news agency’s closure earlier on Thursday, Biden called on Beijing to stop targeting the independent press and release detained journalists and media executives.
    “People in Hong Kong have the right to freedom of the press. Instead, Beijing denies fundamental freedoms and attacks Hong Kong’s autonomy and democratic principles and procedures, contrary to its international obligations,” he said.
    Apple Daily was forced to end a 26-year run amid a crackdown on national security that freezes the company’s assets. Its closure sparked a flurry of hundreds of loyal readers at newsstands across the city.
    “It’s a sad day for media freedom in Hong Kong and around the world,” Biden said, adding that the publication was “a much-needed bastion of independent journalism in Hong Kong.”
    “Through arrests, threats and the imposition of a national security law punishing freedom of speech, Beijing has insisted on exercising its power to suppress independent media and to silence dissenting views,” he said.
    Biden vowed that the United States “will not back down from supporting the people of Hong Kong and all those who stand up for the fundamental freedoms that all people deserve.”
    The closure is the most serious blow to Hong Kong media freedoms and could potentially damage the city’s reputation as a media hub after Beijing imposed a security law on the financial center last year, media support groups say. .
    The head of the United Nations for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, targeted the “negative consequences” on Thursday, said that the owner of Apple Daily Jimmy Lai faced the exercise of his rights, criticizing the detention of the tycoon.
    Speaking at the Publishers Society of Asia Press Awards Ceremony in Hong Kong in 2021, Bachelet said the National Security Act leads journalists to “self-censor” to avoid conflict with “unspecified crimes”.
    Lai has been in jail since December for unauthorized rallies during mass pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong in 2019. He faces three national security charges, including a conflict with a foreign country, and is already serving several sentences for participating in unauthorized participation .
    British Foreign Secretary Dominique Raab has called on China to honor its commitments to release the media under an agreement with Britain on how to govern Hong Kong after its return to British rule in China in 1997.
    “We are definitely seeing what is happening with the closure of Apple Daily and the arrest of journalists very, very seriously,” he said. “We urge China to abide by the terms of this agreement, and we believe that this is a matter of trust and importance for the people of Hong Kong.”
    The Apple Daily was a disappointing tabloid that mixed the pro-democracy debate with celebrity gossip and inquiries into those in power. It was a thorn in the side of Beijing.
    Last year, before Biden won the US presidential election, he published two articles about Hunter Biden’s son and his ties to a Taiwanese businessman, who said the newspaper was a alleged broker “allowing Hunter Biden deals on the mainland.” China for a decade “.
    Lai said on Twitter in October that he personally had “nothing to do” with a report on Hunter Biden’s alleged business connections in China, but admitted money from his private company and had been used to finance it.
    In anticipation of strong demand for its final print, Apple Daily printed 1 million copies or more than 10 times the usual.
    Emotions rose on Thursday among supporters of the newspaper, which has been under constant pressure since Lai was arrested in August 2020.
    “I could not sleep well the last few nights,” said Tse, a 60-year-old former doctor who leans in a wheelchair to rest like a paper queue. “I hope journalists can stay true to their faith and continue to work hard.”
    An Apple Daily staffer expressed anger and frustration.
    “(After) today, there is no freedom of the press in Hong Kong,” said Dickson Ng, 51, the newspaper’s designer. “I feel very frustrated and angry.”
    Last week, 500 officers stormed the newspaper headquarters, sifting through journalists’ notes and other news items in scenes that sparked international condemnation.
    Five executives have been arrested, and two – editor-in-chief Ryan Law and Cheung Kim-hung – have been charged with conspiracy to collude with a foreign country and denied bail. On Wednesday, a newspaper columnist was also arrested under national security law.
    Officials in Hong Kong and China have repeatedly said that media freedoms are respected but not absolute.
    “Hong Kong is a society that has the rule of law. … No one or no organization is above the law,” said a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry. “All rights and freedoms, including freedom of the media, cannot be exceeded.”


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