After decimating Hong Kong’s free press by forcing the closure of pro-democracy outlet Apple Daily, the Chinese communist regime will face little resistance in its bid to completely take over the city, warned the newspaper’s senior executive Mark Simon.
“Once you’ve let the genie out of the bottle, it’s not going to sit there, they are going to keep going as fast as they want,” said Simon in an interview.
Simon, a senior executive of 21 years at Apple Daily’s parent company Next Digital, spoke to The Epoch Times on the last day of the 26-year-old paper on Thursday. From midnight, supporters had queued up at newsstands across the city, sometimes under drizzling rain, waiting to get the last edition of Apple Daily. The outlet sold out 1 million copies, more than 10 times its usual distribution of 80,000.
The front page of the last issue pictured a staff member on the Apple Daily building roof, waving at the crowds outside. “Hongkongers bid a painful farewell in the rain,” the headline read.
One of the city’s loudest voices critical of the Chinese Communist Party, Apple Daily is the latest and biggest casualty yet of the draconian national security law, imposed by Beijing last year to clamp down on the city’s pro-democracy force.
A Blow to a Free City
To Simon and many others, the abrupt closure of the pro-democracy tabloid, known for publishing racy celebrity gossip alongside pro-democracy views and investigations of corrupt officials, means more than the death of one newspaper. It marks the dismantling of all that has so far sustained Hong Kong as a vibrant city, a “rock” on which was born “one of the world’s great economic miracles.”
“Hong Kong is a free society. It’s based on free markets. It’s based on free flow of information. And it’s primarily based on the rule of law. All three of those took a hit,” he said, referring to the Western institutions inherited by the city when it was under British rule for 99 years until the Chinese regime took over in 1997.