asia

After Hong Kong closure, Apple Daily Taiwan put up for sale


There is already a potential buyer. Since May, the Taiwanese version of the Jimmy Lai newspaper has only published online, causing financial problems. A well-known journalist resigns from public television in Hong Kong over the security law. Amnesty: the former British colony is now a “police state”. More than 10 thousand agents deployed to prevent the march for democracy on July 1st.

Taipei (AsiaNews) – The Taiwanese version of Apple Daily is for sale. This was announced yesterday by Next Digital, the holding company that owns the Hong Kong-based newspaper. The pro-democracy newspaper closed down in the former British colony, on June 24: accused of threatening national security, it suffered a series of arrests and the freezing of assets worth HK $ 18 million (€ 1.9 million).

Next Digital said it was in talks with a potential buyer, but did not mention any names. The operation should be completed by 30 July. Due to escalating financial losses, Apple Daily Taiwan stopped print publishing in May and fired 300 employees: the newspaper is now only available online. According to the newspaper’s management, “pro-Beijing forces” in Hong Kong sabotaged advertising sales, making Apple Daily Taiwan’s operations “very difficult”.

Immediately after the Hong Kong edition closed, Apple Daily Taiwan executives said the newspaper would continue publishing with the contribution of nearly 500 workers.

Economic problems, combined with the vicissitudes of the Hong Kong parent company, are likely to force the Taiwanese publication to sell. Jimmy Lai, the founder of Apple Daily, has been in jail since December for his role in anti-government demonstrations in Hong Kong; he is awaiting trial for alleged violation of the national security law imposed by Beijing.

The Hong Kong executive’s squeeze on freedom of information doesn’t just hit Lai’s tabloid. Today, well-known journalist Steve Vines announced that he is leaving Rthk, the Hong Kong public channel. He explained that for a commentator such as he is, a critic of the security law, it is no longer viable for him to work on RTK.

Since the approval of the draconian provision a year ago, many prominent executives and journalists have resigned from the city’s public channel. Vines stressed that at this moment RTHK seems more like an organ of the government than a public TV at the service of citizens.

Entered into force on 30 June 2020, the security law led to the arrest of 117 people. Hong Kong authorities have specified that those arrested are between 15 and 79 years old. So far 64 people have been indicted; the first trial opened on 23 June.

Amnesty International said today that the legislation has “decimated freedoms and created a human rights emergency” in Hong Kong. According to the humanitarian organization, the security law has transformed the city into a “police state”, dominated by a climate of fear.

As a final restriction, the Hong Kong law enforcement agencies banned the traditional march for democracy on July 1st. The authorities justify the ban with the need to contain the spread of Covid-19. According to local media, the police will deploy more than 10 thousand officers to prevent public gatherings on the streets. However, fears about the coronavirus have not stopped preparations in China to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Chinese Communist Party tomorrow.





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