China blocks press freedom in Hong Kong, targets Taiwan

The prospect of freedom of the press and of expression is becoming increasingly murky in Hong Kong, as the consequences of Beijing’s repressive pressure on the press in the former British colony reverberate in Taiwan as well. Today, journalists and editors were arrested in a roadblock at one of Hong Kong’s most followed online news sites, Stand News, which is very popular and watched by the public, not just among the public. opposition activists (now a few survivors). Police forces of the “National Security” task force arrested the current and former editor-in-chief of the newspaper, as well as four directors of the publishing house. This morning, officers attended the home of Lam Chiu Tong, 34, acting editor and former editor Chung Boye Quen, 52, and handcuffed them. Former editorial board members Margaret Ng Nguyi Yi, popular singer Dennis Ho Wan Si, Cho Tat Chi and Christine Fang Ming Sang were also arrested. The four had resigned from their posts last month. Up to 200 clients participated in the raid on the newspaper’s journalists and editors. He, a famous Cantonese pop star and prominent democracy activist, was arrested at his home at 6 a.m. while police ransacked his home for more than two hours, confiscating phones and computers, as well as his identity card and passport, according to the British. Guardians’ Journal. CNN per personal assistant

In a press conference a few hours ago, Steve Lee Kwai Wah, Hong Kong Police Department’s chief supervisor for homeland security, said police raided the publishing house’s offices. in Kwon district. Tong, and froze approximately HK $ 61 million (approximately $ 8 million) of the company’s assets. The supervisor defended the legality of the arrests necessary to “prevent the misrepresentation of ‘bad apples’ in the media,” he said. While the secretary general of the government of Hong Kong, John Lee, for his part increased the dose by declaring: “It is the evil elements which undermine the freedom of the press. Media professionals should realize that those arrested are the wrong people who abuse their positions by wearing a fake jacket for media workers. “

But this new repressive pressure on the press, implemented as part of the “National Security” Killing Liberty Act, which Beijing imposed after the peripheral anti-China protests of 2019 in Hong Kong, has also had repercussions in democratic Taiwan. (which only Beijing considers a “boycott”). “Rebel”, which is part of the homeland and is intended to be reunited, by hook or by crook). In Taipei, in fact, the local sister site of the former Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily, founded by media mogul Jimmy Lai in prison in Hong Kong for some time now, has been put up for sale by the company’s liquidator. . After Lai’s arrest and detention – again for an alleged violation of Hong Kong National Security Law – which followed the confiscation of the publishing company’s shares and all of its assets, he was almost impossible for the newspaper to continue publishing, and now even its Taiwan “branch” is forced to stop.

Last June, after Jimmi Lai was arrested and Apple Daily shut down in an attempt to avoid the same fate, Stand News announced that it would temporarily remove most of the comments hosted on its site and suspend comment subscriptions. , while the platform also stopped accepting new donations last. month. But even these self-censorship measures have failed to prevent editors and publishers from ending up in prison for “conspiring to print or distribute inflammatory publications, in violation of Articles 9 and 10 of the crime law, ”Hong Kong police said in a statement. statement hours ago. little. An inside source said the officers who carried out the raids this morning also took Ronson Chan Ron Singh, deputy director of Stand News and head of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, to his home for “questioning.” Hong Kong police, but they are not “under arrest,” at least for now.

But aside from the state of press freedom in Hong Kong – which has now been all but halted – Beijing’s attempts to expand “Manus Longa’s” crackdown on the press also in Taiwan, the history of the attempts is stirring. concerns over the liquidation of the company’s Taiwanese sister company. . Jailed billionaire Lay has drawn international attention to the case. According to the Taiwanese press, in fact, liquidators appointed by the Hong Kong court have asked the local twin, Apple Online, to turn over three decades of personal data of readers to the Hong Kong authorities. But local human rights groups have staged protests in Taipei calling on the democratic government of “rebel island” to prevent the liquidators from handing over the data, which Hong Kong authorities could also use to try to stop and to trap the data. Taiwanese users, accused of having violated the law on national security, which affects not only Hong Kong but – according to Beijing – also Taiwan, where it is an inalienable part of Chinese territory.

Taiwan’s Culture Ministry said on Monday that courts and liquidators in Hong Kong have neither the right nor the jurisdiction to obtain such data, as its use is protected by Taiwan’s constitution and law. He added that it is only after approval from a Taiwanese court – perhaps – that this data can be submitted to Hong Kong.

In a recent document, the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) literally declared press freedom in the former colony “in tatters”, citing the arrest of Jimmy Lai and the forced shutdown of its media. . and increased censorship in public media by passing China’s imposed national security law, adding that such “oppressive policies” have irreparably damaged not only the city’s media landscape, but also its international reputation. Once a bastion of press freedom in Asia and the world, Hong Kong rose from 18th place in 2002 to 80th in 2021 in Reporters Without Borders’ global press freedom rankings.

The People’s Republic of China, the world’s largest hijacker with more than 120 reporters or bloggers currently in detention, remains 177th out of 180. Journalists jailed in China, according to repeated complaints by Reporters Without Borders, are on trial behind closed doors, without any guarantee to protect their defense, and are subjected to extremely harsh conditions of detention and to genuine ill-treatment and torture. Sadly, the case of Zhang Zhan, a Chinese blogger – and lawyer – known for documenting the chaos and government responsibilities in Wuhan during the early stages of the Covid-19 outbreak in February 2020, is currently at the end of his life. In prison after a hunger strike that made him weigh less than 40 kilos. Amnesty International has called for his “immediate release” so that he can receive the medical care and treatment he needs, without which he “risks dying”. “He may not survive the winter,” the brother wrote on his Twitter account.

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