Chinese authorities in Hong Kong arrested five top executives at the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily on Wednesday in the latest show of force against pro-democracy groups in the now-authoritarian city.
Chinese authorities dismantled Hong Kong’s longstanding democratic system in early 2020 and have since cracked down harder and harder on the remaining organizations in the city that support democracy. Apple Daily is a tabloid owned by Hong Kong billionaire Jimmy Lai, a longstanding opponent of Beijing and perhaps the country’s leading advocate for democracy. Police raided the offices and arrested the executives on Wednesday, saying they had a warrant for the search and seizure of journalistic materials, Reuters reported.
“This is a blatant attack on the editorial side of Apple Daily. They are arresting editors,” Mark Simon, an adviser to Lai who is outside Hong Kong, told Reuters. “They’re arresting the top editorial folks.” (RELATED: NYT, WaPo And Some Press Groups Condemn Arrest Of Hong Kong Media Mogul Jimmy Lai – But Others Remain Silent)
Lai himself has been repeatedly arrested and was sentenced to 14 months in prison in April for supporting pro-democracy protests in the city.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) tightened its grip on Hong Kong in March by enacting a law mandating that all lawmakers “elected” in the city must be “patriots” loyal to the Chinese government.
“I firmly believe that by improving the electoral system and implementing ‘patriots administering Hong Kong’, the excessive politicization in society and the internal rift that has torn Hong Kong apart can be effectively mitigated,” said Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, a Beijing ally, in a statement following the law’s adoption, according to Xinhua News.