Hong Kong freedoms fade as security law muzzles dissent

Hong Kong freedoms fade as security law muzzles dissent



HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong is still China’s wealthiest, most capitalist city. Its vistas of skyscraper and sea framed by dragon-backed emerald peaks are as stunning as ever. But a year after Beijing imposed a harsh national security law on the former British colony, the civil liberties that raised hopes for more democracy among many of its 7 million people are fading.

The June 30, 2020, rollout of the law accelerated a rolling back of freedoms promised to Hong Kong when China took over in 1997. That process was punctuated earlier this month with the shutdown of the city's last pro-democracy newspaper, Apple Daily.

The authorities first came for Apple Daily's outspoken billionaire founder Jimmy Lai. He's in jail serving a 20-month sentence and facing charges of foreign collusion to endanger national security.

Last week, some 500 police officers raided the newspaper's headquarters. At least seven of its journalists and executives have been arrested and $2.3 million worth of assets linked to the paper frozen, preventing it from paying salaries and other costs. For its final edition, Apple Daily printed a million copies — more than 12 times its usual print run. It sold out to crowds who lined up at newsstands for hours.

Apple Daily’s coverage was often “sensationalist,” but it also uncovered corruption and won awards for its investigative reporting, Yuen Chan, a journalist lecturer at the University of London and formerly head of Hong Kong University’s journalism school, said in a commentary on online news portal Citizen News.

It also was a “barometer of Hong Kong’s press freedom and freedom of expression,” she wrote.

The paper’s closure comes as the Chinese Communist Party celebrates the 100th anniversary of its founding in Shanghai in 1921 by Mao Zedong and others....

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