Hong Kong’s biggest pro-democracy newspaper to close as Beijing tightens its grip

One year was all it took for a Beijing-imposed National Security Law to take down Hong Kong’s largest and loudest pro-democracy newspaper.

Next Media announced Wednesday that Apple Daily, its flagship tabloid, would publish its final copy Thursday due to an untenable environment in which its journalists had been arrested and millions of dollars in assets had been frozen. Its digital platform will cease operations on the same day, the company said in a statement. The news sent a deep chill through Hong Kong’s media industry and undermined government claims the new legislation would not diminish press freedom.

Last year, China’s ruling Communist Party moved to bring Hong Kong in line with its authoritarian rule by bypassing the city’s legislature to implement the security law. It punishes anything the authorities deem to be subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison. While city leader Carrie Lam said back then that press freedoms would still be protected, Apple Daily staffers say they knew it was only a matter of time before they were targeted. “But it still came as a shock when it happened,” said one journalist at the publication, who asked to remain anonymous out of security fears.

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