Apple Daily: The Hong Kong newspaper that pushed the boundary

Pro-democracy district councillor Lam Chun holds a copy of the Apple Daily newspaper Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Apple Daily paper has grow to be an emblem for protesters

It began off as an area Hong Kong tabloid, recognized for its generally sensational headlines and paparazzi images.

But over its 25 years in print, the Apple Daily has grow to be one thing rarer – a newspaper unafraid to be overtly essential of the Chinese state and a regular bearer for the pro-democracy motion in Hong Kong.

And now, a bit over a month since China imposed a brand new nationwide safety regulation on Hong Kong, the Apple Daily has grow to be a goal. Police raided the paper’s places of work on Monday and arrested its proprietor, Jimmy Lai, and 9 others on fees together with colluding with overseas forces.

The raid on the newspaper has raised fears of a broader crackdown on media freedom in Hong Kong – and for the way forward for one of many few papers unafraid to push the boundaries.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Lai was amongst 10 folks arrested on fees together with colluding with overseas forces

Forbidden fruit

Apple Daily was established in 1995 by Mr Lai, reportedly named after the forbidden fruit within the Bible.

“If Eve hadn’t bitten the forbidden fruit, there would be no sin, no right and wrong, and of course – no news,” Mr Lai advised information website the Lianhe Evening News in an earlier interview.

The paper established itself as a tabloid and have become recognized for its sensationalist articles and daring catchy headlines, specializing in crime and leisure information.

It strayed generally into unethical territory. In 1998 it revealed a report a couple of Hong Kong man who was photographed soliciting prostitutes on the Chinese mainland shortly after his spouse dedicated suicide.

It was later revealed {that a} reporter from Apple Daily had paid the person cash to pose for the {photograph}.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Jimmy Lai on the Apple Daily places of work in 1995

But over time the paper advanced and began to cowl extra political information. Hong Kong started experiencing a collection of social actions within the early 2000s which noticed folks resisting integration with the mainland.

That resistance opened up the market of political information for Apple Daily, in response to Dr Joyce Nip, a senior lecturer in Chinese media research on the University of Sydney, and gave the paper a novel benefit when different mainstream information retailers started “toeing the line of [one country, two systems]”.

“Apple Daily generally disapproves of the Beijing political system, mainland China and its appointed administration in Hong Kong, both in its news agenda and in its [framing] of the news,” mentioned Dr Nip.

And whereas the paper continued to cowl smooth information and leisure, it more and more produced political items and cemented its place as an unapologetically pro-democracy paper.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A protest in opposition to then chief govt Tung Chee-hwa

On 1 July 2003, the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China from British rule, a large-scale rally had been organised in opposition to the administration of the then Chief Executive, Tung Chee-hwa. Apple Daily was vocal in its help for the motion, printing the phrases “No to Tung Chee-hwa” in its headline.

The paper’s reporters are sometimes barred from overlaying information in mainland China and none had been permitted to cowl the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

In 2011, when Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei was arrested by Beijing authorities, Apple Daily’s headline declared: “Beijing politics rapes Ai Weiwei.”

In 2019, Apple Daily received the Hong Kong Human Rights Press Award for its reporting on Liu Xia, the spouse of the outstanding Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo, who died whereas serving an 11-year sentence for “subversion”.

The paper’s criticism of the Chinese authorities and pro-establishment figures in Hong Kong reportedly resulted in frequent promoting boycotts.

‘Kill the rooster to scare the monkey’

And then, this week, the paper noticed the arrest of its personal founder, Mr Lai, and a handful of different media figures and activists, beneath the sweeping new safety regulation handed by China in June.

“The sight of more than a hundred police men raiding the newsroom was really shocking,” mentioned Professor Keith Richburg, the director of the Journalism and Media Studies Centre on the University of Hong Kong.

“I think it was entirely intended to scare [other media outlets]. In Chinese there’s a saying, ‘Kill the chicken to scare the monkey’. Apple Daily in this case was the chicken and we are the monkeys. It was a very dramatic show of force,” he mentioned.

But even now, the paper is just not holding again.

In Tuesday’s version it doubled down on its criticism, accusing the police of “blatantly bypass[ing] the law and abusing their power” through the raid of its places of work.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Around 200 cops raided the paper’s workplace

It is just not clear now what lies forward for the paper.

Mr Lai’s arrest, along with that of the paper’s senior editors, “takes away leadership of the paper, which will create difficulty for its operation”, mentioned Dr Nip. But she mentioned she thought the paper would proceed to function.

It is definitely not backing down but.

“Hong Kong’s press freedom is now hanging by a thread, but our staff will remain fully committed to our duty to defend the freedom of the press,” the paper mentioned in an announcement.

“Apple Daily shall fight on.”