POLITICS

China admits being scared of Apple Daily’s influence; founder Jimmy Lai & co still in jail

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A Chinese mouthpiece has justified the crackdown on Apple Daily alleging that it was acting in collusion with policies of the countries like the US and the UK

China

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After Hong Kong-based pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily was forced to close due to the Chinese communist regime’s crackdown, its mouthpiece Global Times has attempted to justify the brazen clampdown on free speech by alleging that Apple Daily was acting in collusion with the policies of the US and the UK, and mobilized resistance to Hong Kong laws. The Chinese mouthpiece called Apple Daily a “political revolt-seeker”.

Excerpts from the Global Times article read, “Apple Daily started two years before Hong Kong’s return to China in 1997. Gradually, the newspaper became the base camp of public opinion that mobilized resistance in Hong Kong to function by the spirit of the Basic Law and promoted Hong Kong to act in collusion with the China policies of countries like the US and the UK. The outlet has greatly exceeded the information function of the media and turned into a political revolt-seeker. It has been stirring up trouble and running in the frontline in Hong Kong’s growing political turmoil.”

The Chinese mouthpiece went on to state that “no western country would allow the existence of such a hub that manipulates public opinion to counter constitutional system of the country.”

Apple Daily’s founder Jimmy Lai continues to be in prison since his arrest in August 2020 for what the dictatorial regime claims as a violation of national security law. His two sons and a few of the senior staff were also arrested then. Moreover, it also arrested the editorial head recently before the newspaper was forcibly made to shut down.

As the US and the UK have lashed out at the authoritarian Chinese regime for its crackdown on the freedom of the press that speaks against them, the Chinese mouthpiece cited the case of Donald Trump’s Twitter account suspension to justify what the Xi Jinping-led regime has done to Apple Daily.

Reputation for muzzling anti-government voices

It is pertinent to note that Apple Daily is not a one-off example of the Chinese regime’s dictatorial nature. China has a reputation for muzzling voices that speak their mind. Let alone common civilians, the Chinses regime has not even spared the billionaires of the country, the likes of Alibaba founder Jack Ma and food delivery firm Meituan’s CEO Wang Xing.

Systemic clampdown on Jack Ma

It is worth mentioning that Jack Ma abruptly came under fire from the Chinese regime after he spoke against the financial regulators in a public speech in October last year. Since then, his initial public offering by Ant Group Co. has been put on hold and he has largely stayed out of public view. Latest reports state that Jack Ma, the person who raised an Amazon-like organisation in China, now spends his time painting.

Ant Group’s IPO was said to be the largest IPO ever in the world if only the Chinese regime had allowed it to happen or rather if Jack Ma had stayed silent and not aired criticisms against the regime. The Xi Jinping-led Chinese regime has also compelled Jack Ma to sell the South China Morning Post (SCMP) which was a Hong Kong-based daily, owing to its growing influence over public opinion in China.

Not only Jack Ma…

It was not only Jack Ma which the Chinese regime targeted. China issued a warning to another billionaire Wang Xing last month who is the CEO of the third-largest tech corporation Meituan. The Chinese regime warned Wang Xing for posting an ancient poem that was taken by many as an implicit criticism of the Xi Jinping led communist government. According to the report, the Chinese government summoned the CEO of Meituan-Dianping to a meeting and warned the billionaire from courting the spotlight. Wang Xing has now been asked to stay low, just like Jack Ma.

China’s dictatorial and systemic crackdowns on prominent billionaires, media houses, even religions, raises an existential question over the governance of the Xi Jinping-led communist regime – Is there any freedom at all in China?

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