State-run paper urges ban on Apple Daily to close ‘national security loopholes’

Published (HKT): 2021.04.16 19:32

The Apple Daily newspaper should be shut down because of its slanderous reporting and its incitement of Hong Kong independence, according to a commentary article published in state-run newspaper Ta Kung Pao.

The article accused some media organizations of using their status as the so-called fourth estate to engage in collusion with foreign forces, incite violence and produce fabrications. The newspaper is viewed as having close ties with, or at least insight into the thinking of, Beijing’s officials overseeing Hong Kong affairs.

The newspaper said that Apple Daily was the worst offender, and called for it to be banned in accordance with the law in order to plug loopholes in national security.

The article said that since the national security law came into effect, opposition politicians had become more low-key and had not dared to challenge the bottom line, but national security loopholes still existed in the media sector. The piece then singled out Apple Daily and accused the newspaper of publishing propaganda for pro-independence elements.

Ta Kung Pao’s commentary referenced Apple Daily’s report on Thursday on a set of large billboards set up in Britain by the Stand With Hong Kong lobbying group.

“This is not reporting, but rather political propaganda and Hong Kong independence propaganda, which is suspected of violating the national security law,” the piece read.

The article coincides with a series of remarks targeting the media by police commissioner Chris Tang. Tang said on Friday that a newspaper had defamed a group of students who had been enjoying themselves at a police activity the previous day.

Although Tang did not name the newspaper, Apple Daily’s front page on Friday included a photo of a group of students playing with toy guns in an MTR subway carriage. The photo had been widely shared online, with netizens comparing the scene with a police arrest operation in Prince Edward MTR station on Aug. 31, 2019. In that operation, armed officers stormed a subway carriage in scenes that were widely circulated.

Tang on Thursday launched an attack on Jimmy Lai, saying his company Next Digital – publisher of Apple Daily – had not stopped producing misleading, hyped up and untrue reports to divide public sentiment, thereby inciting hatred in Hong Kong toward the country.

Secretary for Security John Lee also said that individuals endangering national security were still using the media, arts and cultural sectors to support the idea of Hong Kong independence and spread destructive thoughts. Lee added that this was a deliberate attempt to portray criminals as heroes.

Apple Daily responded to Ta Kung Pao and Chris Tang by saying: “Let’s stand tall in fallen times.”

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