Back in 2010, when I was an intern at CNN International in Hong Kong, one of my duties involved waking up at 6 a.m. to read and translate headlines from Apple Daily to share with editors and producers as part of a morning memo. The swashbuckling, sometimes irreverent, pro-democracy tabloid was a key source of news and entertainment for Hong Kongers. International journalists and foreign correspondents also paid attention to the paper for its feisty coverage of Hong Kong.
In recent years, even before the implementation of the National Security Law, many papers in Hong Kong had already begun to self-censor, fearing an invisible "line" from China or perhaps worrying that Chinese advertisers with strong ties to the Mainland government might pull the plug. Apple Daily became one of the few outlets without a pro-Beijing slant that continued to hold Hong Kong and Chinese politicians to account. The paper's closure marks a sad milestone for press freedom and the rule of law in Hong Kong, both of which have been rapidly eroding.
There were so many things I took for granted growing up in Hong Kong in the 1990s and 2000s returning to work as a journalist in the early 2010s. Every year, without fail, there was a vigil at Victoria Park on June 4 to mark the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. Hong Kong was the only place on Chinese soil where people could gather to remember the massacre and hundreds (possibly thousands) of students shot dead by the authorities. People would light candles, read poetry and sing songs to remember those who were murdered for advocating for democracy. That gathering has now been banned for two years in a row.
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