The symbolism of the Hong Kong Apple Daily

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, Jenni Marsh and Caitlin Hu, CNN

Jimmy Lai fled mainland China over 60 years ago, sneaking into Hong Kong on a fishing boat at the age of 12 to escape the chaos of the Communist Party. This week, Beijing finally caught up with him, after a law it imposed on Hong Kong last year was used to suppress its pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily.

Iconic Hong Kong tabloid Lai, founded on Thursday, shut down due to an untenable environment in which its reporters were arrested under the loosely-termed National Security Act and assets were frozen, said parent company Next Media. Lai, now in his mid-1970s, and five of the newspaper’s top editors and executives were also arrested under radical law for alleged collusion with foreign forces, apparently for articles they wrote and interviews Lai data with media calling for sanctions against Hong Kong.

The news of the Apple Daily shutdown sparked a wave of emotion outside its offices on Wednesday night, where a longtime Hong Kong reporter tearfully told CNN that the shutdown marked the end of press freedom in the once autonomous city.

“Apple Daily has always been a symbolic publication for us to show that press freedoms in Hong Kong still exist,” she said. CNN’s Lauren Lau as the crowd cheered and shouted for the newspaper. “We don’t agree with everything they report… but it’s a matter of professional discussion, and I respect a lot of my peers, journalists, friends. They made a lot of great stories, they still speak out and they are there to ask the most pressing questions. That is why they are now being targeted by the government.

As CNN’s Jenni Marsh written, the sensitivity of the Apple Daily tabloids has led to a paparazzi culture in the city and occasionally aroused anger for its reporting methods. But he also followed the wealth of mainland officials and their families in Hong Kong, and devoted many resources to holding those in power to account. While other media avoided openly criticizing the ruling Communist Party in China, Apple Daily continued to push the bear. When a mass pro-democracy movement erupted in 2019, its front pages urged readers to witness huge marches, and it printed anti-government posters they could wear.

It was all too much for Beijing on Chinese soil. In June 2020, as restrictions related to the pandemic hampered the ability of Hong Kong people to protest, China passed the law under which Lai and many pro-democracy politicians and activists were arrested. Until this week, Apple Daily was the last great voice of the still-on the run pro-democracy camp.

“Sadness for the freedom of the media”

US President Joe Biden on Thursday called the shutdown of Apple Daily “a sad day for media freedom in Hong Kong and around the world.”

“Beijing’s escalation of repression has reached such a level that Apple Daily, a vital stronghold of independent journalism in Hong Kong, has now stopped publishing. Through arrests, threats and a national security law that penalizes freedom of expression, Beijing has insisted on exercising its power to suppress independent media and silence dissenting opinions, ”he said. he said in a press release.

“The people of Hong Kong have the right to freedom of the press. Instead, Beijing denies fundamental freedoms and attacks Hong Kong’s autonomy and democratic institutions and processes, which is inconsistent with its international obligations. The United States will not waver in its support for the people of Hong Kong and all those who defend the fundamental freedoms that all deserve, ”he also said.

“The foundation of my life”

Joe Biden is perhaps the most fervent president in the public since Jimmy Carter.

Every weekend, his procession leaves the White House or his home in Delaware for Biden to attend mass in a Roman Catholic church. When he was in England for the G7 summit, he surprised the faithful by showing up on a local bench. The second Catholic President, after John Kennedy, Biden said his faith anchors him following a series of personal tragedies, and last year – after then-President Donald Trump claimed that Biden’s election “would hurt God” – said faith was “the foundation of the cornerstone.” of my life.”

So it must be a personal trial for Biden to know that conservative Catholic bishops in the United States are pushing for a plan to take away his right to Communion, because of his support for abortion rights. Designed to affect all Catholic politicians who support abortion, the doctrinal changes they advocate will however have limited effect – bishops are free to make their own appeals in their local dioceses.

Although he personally opposes abortion, Biden says he would not impose his views on women who do not share his religion or believers of other faiths. Supporting a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body is a value that is firmly rooted in the Democratic coalition. Republicans widely oppose abortion, and the anti-abortion movement is escalating legal challenges to abortion rights that could end up in the Supreme Court.

The president said the Church’s attitude towards fellowship is a private matter that he will not discuss in public. But the policy changes proposed by the American bishops have raised questions of consistency: the death penalty contradicts Roman Catholic teachings, for example, but there has been no movement in the Church to prevent Trump’s attorney general , William Barr, who follows the Faith, to receive Communion. after ordering the Justice Department to resume federal executions.

Such contradictions explain why more liberal faith groups like Catholics for Choice condemn the use of communion as a “weapon of punishment” and accuse bishops of refusing to address the complexities of sexuality and reproduction.

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