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Hong Kong media curtail operations as China tightens grip on free speech

ANI | Updated: Jun 30, 2021 14:19 IST


Hong Kong, June 30 (ANI): As the national security law imposed by Beijing in Hong Kong completes one year in Hong Kong, several online media outlets in the city are taking down opinion articles and videos from their websites and have said they would move out after the arrest of another Apple Daily columnist on Sunday.
A pro-democracy news outlet in Hong Kong said it had temporarily removed commentaries written by its bloggers and readers from May this year. It further decided to stop accepting monthly sponsorship from readers and to shelve older commentaries, reported Asia Times.
The news outlet said six of its directors have accepted recommendations to resign, adding that it had enough money to run for another nine to 12 months and maintain its current editorial guidelines.
Another media website that stopped its news operations on May 5 but operated a YouTube channel said that it had taken down all its videos on Sunday evening due to the tightening control in Hong Kong's media sector.
Winandmac Media, an IT website that had covered Hong Kong news since 2010, said it had already moved its operations and financial resources out of Hong Kong due to the dramatic deterioration of press freedom in the city.
Earlier, Fung Wai-kong, a senior editorial writer of Hong Kong's pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily was arrested at the city airport on charges of collusion, local media reported.

Wai-kong's arrest comes a few days after police arrested a columnist of now-defunct newspaper for allegedly "conspiring to collude with foreign countries or foreign forces to endanger national security", Axios reported.
According to Asia Times, the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) condemned the police for again targeting journalists. Ronson Chan, chairman of the HKJA, said it was worrying that Apple Daily's closure failed to stop further arrests.
"We are afraid that the police have a list and still many journalists or commentary writers will be targeted by the police. So I'm afraid that the arrests will continue," Chan said.
Apple Daily was last week forced to shut down after the city authorities froze its assets and arrested five executives under the draconian National Security Law.
The Hong Kong authorities have increasingly been relying on the China-backed law, which provides them broad power to limit people's political freedom and to arrest journalists at the independent news outlet.
Meanwhile, the draconian Beijing-imposed national security law, introduced to smother dissent and free speech in Hong Kong, has completed one year on Wednesday, leaving the once British-controlled region in turmoil and chaos.
The law criminalises any act of secession (breaking away from China), subversion (undermining the power or authority of the central government), terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, with punishments of up to life in prison. (ANI)

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