Daily US Times: Hong Kong has long been the leading financial hub in Asia, straddling the West and China. But as China tightens its grip over the city, which is still largely cut off by coronavirus restrictions, it’s increasingly tricky for tech, banks and media to do business — and some fear the end of an era.
Almost exactly one year after the introduction of the highly controversial Chinese national security law, popular tabloid Apple Daily was forced to close down this week after millions of dollars in assets were frozen and its journalists were arrested. A government notice served on its headquarters, a dramatic police raid on its newsroom and the seizing of bank accounts stoked fears about press freedom and property rights in a city that was supposed to enjoy significant autonomy from Beijing until 2047.
Authorities in Hong Kong sought to distance the Apple Daily’s closure from what it called “normal journalistic work,” and asserted that the rebellious, pro-democracy publication threatened national security.
But the sudden closure of a 26-year-old tabloid has become what some are calling an inflection point for businesses across the city. Combined with other recent tensions, the closure of the tabloid has deepened the chill that settled over the city last year as Beijing tightened its grip.
US President Joe Biden described the Apple Daily closure “a sad day for media freedom in Hong Kong and around the world.”
On Friday, China responded that Biden’s comments were “groundless,” and urged the United States not to interfere in China’s “internal affairs.”