Chinese Government Continues To Arrest More Journalists Over Nonsense 'National Security' Law

from the seeing-red dept

The decline of democracy in Hong Kong, with Beijing continuing to tighten its grip, has accelerated. While the Chinese government pledged a hands off posture towards Hong Kong for 50 years when the UK relinquished its control, that pledge seems to have been worth less than the paper on which it was written. A couple years ago, Hong Kong implemented a new “national security” law that has almost nothing to do with national security beyond allowing for the prosecution of anyone who doesn’t think the CCP are perfect in every way. The end result of that has been the arrest of media members accused of participating in “unauthorized protests”, arrests of protesters themselves, and the ousting and later arrest of pro-democracy lawmakers for the crime of being pro-democracy.

One of the media members arrested early on was Jimmy Lai, founder of the Apple Daily newspaper and website. Lai had initially gotten out on bail, only to have that bail revoked by the court on reinterpretation of the national security law. If the Chinese government thought that his arrest and treatment would end the voracious threat of an actual journalistic outfit in the Apple Daily, it was sorely mistaken. As you might expect, this of course has led to even further arrests of Apple Daily staff and partners.

Hong Kong police have arrested five editorial executives, including the editor in chief, of media outlet Apple Daily, freezing more corporate accounts and imperiling the future of the region’s most feisty, investigative paper. Ryan Law, the chief editor, the CEO of the newspaper’s publisher Cheung Kim-hung, the publisher’s chief operating officer Chan Puiman, and two other editors were among those arrested. The Apple Daily live stream showed Law being led out of the paper’s offices in handcuffs early Thursday morning.

“They’re our top three editorial people, they’ve just stripped out our top three editorial people,” said Mark Simon, a Taiwan-based executive with the paper’s publisher Next Media.

These types of arrests in Hong Kong are so frequent now that they risk becoming routine in the eyes of the world. Thanks to the unfortunate rise of populist authoritarianism in many Western democracies, many world nations have self-neutered their ability to credibly respond. The end result is that Hong Kong has been largely left to the communist wolves, with much lip-service being paid by the rest of the world.

In the case of these specific arrests, the Hong Kong stasi did its stasi-thing because the Apple Daily had the gaul to suggest that other countries should actually get off their asses and do more to help the Hong Kong people.

Li Guihua, a senior officer with Hong Kong’s special legal body set up to prosecute national security cases, said that the editors were arrested because of “dozens of articles in Apple Daily that called on foreign agencies to impose sanctions on China or the Hong Kong government.”

Around 200 police officers were sent to Apple Daily’s offices to search the premises and confiscate “journalistic materials,” according to a national security police statement.

“There is huge frustration that Apple Daily won’t stop,” said Simon.

No doubt, but none of this means the rest of the world has to stand by and do nothing. Unfortunately, standing by and doing nothing appears to be the plan, as the Chinese government continues the slow reverse-drip of any independence in Hong Kong, sucking out the established freedoms of the population a handful of arrests at a time. The government’s plan appears to still be to scare the absolute shit out of everyone until they self-censor. The below is again from Li Guihua:

“I also want to give a warning – don’t attract suspicion. If there’s no special circumstances for you to share it, I advise you not to do it, so as not to attract suspicion,” Li said.

And that’s the real purpose in all of this. Yes, news organizations like the Apple Daily are a threat to Chinese rule, but the real threat is Hong Kong’s citizens. If they collectively decided to really kickstart a pushback, that would create a crisis that would put Hong Kong in the type of international crosshairs that are more difficult to ignore.

But for now, it seems, the world is content to just watch all this from the sidelines.

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Comments on “Chinese Government Continues To Arrest More Journalists Over Nonsense 'National Security' Law”

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51 Comments
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Bloof (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The UK’s government have isolated it from the EU, where it could have used it’s influence to make China think twice through the use of sanctions. Now they have no power, no leverage and they want trade deals so they won’t say a peep about Hong Kong in exchange for one with china.

Also they’re starting their own crackdown on democracy with anti protest laws, voter ID laws to deal with the single digit number of voter fraud cases, all that good stuff.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"And the gutless UK isn’t doing a damn thing to help those being arrested or hold China to account for breaking the treaty! Disgusting!"

…neither is the US.

The problem stems from the fact that in international politics, if you want to come out condemning another nation in the global forum then you need moral high ground.

The UK knew from the start that the sino-british treaty wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. They open their mouths now China can plug their jaw in an instant just by pulling up the sordid british history around HK.

And the US literally can’t stand the exposure either. You need to go full North Korea before Uncle Sam can beat his chest in righteous anger without looking like a hypocrite. The last four years means the US can barely come out shouting about Xinjiang…but isn’t clean enough to intervene about HK.

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Anonymous Coward says:

welcome to china of usa

just think….. the US is thinking of ways to implement china laws here at home. they have a tougher time with it, but little things like 9/11, capitol raid, or a c-19 plandemic are used to grant government more power under the guise of "safety".
when it is WE THE PEOPLE that need the protection from government!

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Samuel Abram (profile) says:

Re: Re: welcome to china of usa

To be fair to the anonymous coward, it is legitimate to be afraid of governments cracking down on civil liberties after major disasters. After 9/11 the USA PATRIOT act passed.

That being said, there’s a difference between warning about government overreach and using large-scale events to accelerate said overreach and thinking they caused said events without evidence*.

*keyword is "without evidence". We know all about what the CIA and FBI did because there is actual hard evidence for what they did. If 9/11 was an inside job and COVID-19 was created in a lab, I’d like to see evidence, such as government documents by a whistleblower.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Bloof (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: welcome to china of usa

If you see someone tossing around words like plandemic, you’re not probably not dealing with someone with genuine concerns about government overreach, you’re dealing with someone deep down the right wing conspiracy theorist rabbithole who’d actually be fine with crackdowns, as long as they’re directed at their enemies. I’ve encountered plenty who had no objections to the brutal treatment of BLM protestors, antifascist counter protesters and police collusion with far right groups, all while squealing about government oppression because they were asked to wear a mask for the public good.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 welcome to china of usa

There is a very interesting study from the CDC that explains the psychology of a
crisis:
https://emergency.cdc.gov/cerc/ppt/CERC_Psychology_of_a_Crisis.pdf

In page 10 explains a something called stigmantization that basically means that
society will marginalize and blame a group of people for the entire disaster for
a variety of reasons.In this case the reason is clearly radical political ideologies (extreme left) wichis exactly what triggers your sichotic brain after reading the word plandemic into writing a very very very derogatory comment about some tin foil hat BS that has nothing to do with what the OP is saying.

After that you tried to excuse yourself with even bigger BS:

" you’re not probably not dealing with someone with genuine concerns"

"I’ve encountered plenty"

This sort of reply clearly indicates that you are assuming correlation always
leads to causation which is just wrong and totally false and this sort of behavior just indicates your willingness to judge others in base of some stereotype that came from your own prejudices and delusions.
This is such pure evil,heinous and despicable behavior that you deserve life
imprisonment.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 welcome to china of usa

"reading the word plandemic"

"Plandemic" isn’t a real word. It’s the title of a bunch of videos created specifically to spread FUD and conspiracy theories about an ongoing global pandemic. There’s literally no reason anyone would use that term unless they believe that misinformation, so people may rightly react accordingly to someone who does use it with any degree of seriousness. That is, they just indicated that they themselves are a nutjob who believes in laughable propaganda.

"tin foil hat BS"

If you believe this term applies correctly to the above comment and not the videos being referenced, you’re about 180 degrees turned around.

Anonymous Coward says:

China is a superpower , it also supply’s cheap goods and electronics to the west. China does not threaten the west like Iran or North Korean or supply weapons to terrorists groups. China also buys goods from the west and has large investments in Western companys
What will happen is over time bit by bit independent journalism will cease to exist in Hong Kong
Activists will leave or be arrested
I see weekly protests about Blm and some protests pro palestine
I have not seen one protest against China re Hong Kong press freedom
It’s happening in Russia too journalists or opposition figures can be arrested under vague security laws
To some degree the west depends on China to produce cheap goods
It would take massive sanctions to change china’s stance on free speech in Hong Kong

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Activists will leave or be arrested

Trouble is, they’re not allowed to leave! The Chinese govt wants to arrest as many as possible and make examples of them, proving how powerful (and pathetic) it is! One of the issues with so many govts is that they are run by people who are too old, who want to stick to rules, laws and trains of thought that are decades old, like them and far removed from modern thinking!

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"Trouble is, they’re not allowed to leave! The Chinese govt wants to arrest as many as possible and make examples of them, proving how powerful (and pathetic) it is!"

This is nothing but continuation of 2500-year old practice. It’s all about the concept of "face". In China you can basically do almost whatever you want as long as what you do is kept private. Break the rules where no one can see, no one will come looking. Break those rules where anyone else can see or teach others how to break them, prepare for the witch hunt.

This tends to work out well for about 9 in 10 people. The rest becoming examples unto others of what happens if you don’t quietly sit back and enjoy prosperity under the dictates of the Son of Heaven.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Max says:

Only goes to show people never actually learn from history. There are countless precedents, even in just the last hundred years or so, which clearly illustrate that thinking that "world powers" of any kind will come to the aid of a small entity which irrevocably fell under the sphere of influence of some malignant large one is UTTERLY DELUSIONAL. It never happens.

Sure they will make all kinds of disapproving noises and possibly even apply some sanctions or whatnot, but once you are alone in the room with you new overlord, you’re on your own, full stop. You have exactly two choices: flee (if you still can) or accept that it fully owns you, and this is your life now. Trying to mount any kind of resistance and/or hold out until the "rescue" arrives will only get you steamrolled spectacularly, and very very painfully, if only "pour encourager les autres", to fall in line OR ELSE – just to make it very clear that this is NOT a discussion.

HeyBoy says:

You can always trust tyrannical governments

…" that {Communist Chinese} pledge seems to have been worth less than the paper on which it was written."

Duh !

The full takeover of Hong Kong by Red China was a very predictable
certainty.
Only the terminally naive would be surprised by current events in Hong Kong.

That UK paper "agreement" with REd China was purely a face-saving tactic for the British to wash their hands of HK.
Red China held all the power, but nominally cooperated with the (temporary) international public relations fig leaf.
Both UK and Red China knew what the end-game was for HK.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: You can always trust tyrannical governments

All correct, except for one thing; China is not and never has been "red". They’re about as communist as Ronald Reagan. Their very loud and strident insistence that they’re all good socialists is just a new window dressing on top of a VERY old fundamentally capitalistic bureaucratic oligarchy which stays in power by shamelessly catering to enough of a proportion of the population to prevent outright revolution.

If China was really communist I very much doubt they’d have managed to become an economic super-power – which they are.

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HeyBoy says:

Re: MAGA satire

OK fine –U don’t like Trump, me neither. Biden is no better, none of them are good.

No US President can save Hong Kong, Red China is way too powerful.
Nobody here is willing to die for Hong Kong democracy, nor should they be.
Freedom is extremely rare in world history and very fragile where it happened to sprout.

Hong Kong is a lost cause. Its residents should leave before the final shackles are applied.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Ps – I know nobody spoke about Yemen and what other us backed regimes are doing. What is a constant here however is a lot of talking about journalistic freedoms – while what I see is that real atrocities in the world go totally unnoticed because the current media is completely aligned with a genocidal supporting narrative that paints allied governments as normal states, whoever they are, and opposed one as "regimes" whatever they do. If rather than discussing the fate of journalists in Hong Kong some energy was spent about Central America for example, where civil wars erupt on the US doorstep regularly and nobody cares, at least it would not look like the question about press freedom in China is a pure distraction from mass murdering happening in other places. Kind of looking at the finger rather than the moon, which makes the reaction of China perfectly imaginable: laughing their asses off. And no, it is not due to populist governments on the rise. Wars started well before that and are just being continued.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Looking just at the "facts", on murders of innocent people US and its allies are leading uncontested. One million dead just in Iraq, we are already at genocide level. But since the discussion is about jailing journalists, lets discuss how the prison system in the US works and who is jailed in it. Well, it appears that it’s the worst in the world in per capita terms. So the discussion from the jailer in chief, the one that contributed to raise I prisonment rates in the US to a level worse that the soviet union in the old days (counting gulags) should do exactly what with China? Suggest that instead of jailing journalists for writing wrong articles they follow the US example, or even better try with jaywalkers? In comparison with the US, numbers say that they jail way less people. This makes their prison system more, not less, humane than in the US.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Sure! Incarceration rate in 2021 in US: 630 persons in jail per 100.000 persons. In China: 121 per 100.000. Source world prison brief via wikipedia. So China is such a "repressive" regime that it jails about six times less people than the US. But this is whataboutism! lets single out journalists from the entire population, they are different! and lets make it look like the reality is not that the US are worse than many dictatorships in jailing people at random. Because if a police state like the US has (maybe, and I would not be surprised if it’s not even the case) in journalists an underrepresented category in its prison system vs the statistics, then there is a lecture to be made about freedom to China. Freedom of speech of course, not freedom to sleep at your home.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Absolutely not – I am just pointing out that if the discussion is only about repression in China, fair enough. But whenever the article calls for "international crosshair", whatever that means, I strongly disagree with the idea that, after trampling on UN resolutions, human rights etc, there is still even the slightest idea of "international community" (read: journalists and institutions that lied to profit from illegal wars) to draw upon. So yes, the situation in China is worrisome. And no, there is no white knight with any credibility whatsoever to come and support a change, because in the last 20 years that the words "democracy" and "freedom" were too often used to justify genocide and war profiteering by that same "international community" and the public opinion which was constantly lied to.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

But then hey, if some "international crosshairs" narrative about hk gets traction and a revolution can be engineered in the name of press freedom, leaving a few thousands dead and a new base in the indopacific, that’s also something. I am not sure that people in Syria were so happy to trade press repression for some Isis butchers, but with hindsight it’s too easy to judge I guess.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

the basic fact that the US and its allies are currently, by far, the worst abusers of human rights in the world through war, famine, sponsored genocides is in the numbers and is not disputable. This does not mean that you cannot discuss other human rights offenders of course. It just means that you cannot put China and the "international crosshairs" in the same article. It’s like putting side by side flu and cancer. on the other side of the "international crosshairs" children die of thirst and hunger.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Re:

With pleasure. With the small note that adults like the author of this article are not just talking, they are driving the narrative. This is a different thing, although it is made to look the same. I can find tens of articles like this one from 20 years ago advocating for more press freedom and democracy in Afghanistan. This article, like many others about HK, will be a small grain in a bigger picture used to build friction against China. The plot is always the same – find a "regime" (press freedom is a problem in Hong Kong and not in Azerbaijan, right?), engineer a narrative, move in with sanctions, "allied" bombs or soldiers, share the profits. All while selectively ignoring the atrocities that "our side" does because people in Palestine are not really people. This is how US officials can say on the record (last month) that Israel is killing kids in self defense. And the "free" journalists did not even note how ludicrous is the very basic idea that a soldier can kill a kid in self defense. So if the adult talking is about trying to find a narrative about China to distract the international attention from dead children, I will leave you to it, as I prefer to be on the part of the kids.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Rocky says:

Re: Re: Re:11 Re:

By your reasoning every article should always be about all the shit that happens, otherwise it’s just "our side" pushing a narrative.

What you are missing here, if people don’t highlight the places where freedoms are disappearing there’s no real point in highlighting the places where it’s already gone.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:12 Re:

As I wrote multiple times, I welcome discussions about specific issues, no matter how large or small they are, present or past. What I criticized is specifically invoking some international, external, pressure on HK. We want to discuss about freedom of the press in hk: fine. Drag some international narrative into the article: wrong. Been there, seen that exploited by evil forces too many times. As simple as that, IMHO.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I’d put it differently…but it really isn’t realistic to have much hope here; The US, since 9/11, spent all it’s political capital abroad chasing phantoms and waging wars of aggression. A cynic might deduce that Xi Jin Ping waited until the US credibility abroad was at an all-time low before tightening the screws on Hong Kong. What little political capital Obama recovered from what GWB spent Trump wasted and overdrafted.

Now the only way to reverse the HK clock will be someone going to war with a US near-peer. Because China backing down from fully integrating HK isn’t going to happen. They’ll eat almost any loss to wipe away the last few smidgeons left of the Century of Humiliation. Similar to their stance on Taiwan.

We can argue between squatter’s rights and eminent domain, or whether the people of HK are getting a rough and unfair shake – imho, they are.
But it changes nothing. The very second the UK decided to hand over HK the residents were facing a fairly obvious choice; Start working toward emigration, or making the choice to live under the rules of the Chinese autocracy, with little to no say about their future.

Maybe there’s a possibility to change this in the future, but today there is no hope for HK independence.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: MAGA satire

"No US President can save Hong Kong, Red China is way too powerful"

Which might be a good thing overall, as it forces the US to actually deal with other countries diplomatically. You’ve done a lot of harm over the last few decades by invading countries, kicking out existing governments that weren’t to your liking and leaving behind a destabilised mess that’s worse for everyone long term. It’s perhaps a good thing that you can’t just invade another country – even though it’s a very difficult time for the people of Hong Kong, I have no doubt that you wouldn’t improve their lot if you were able to invade.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

You’ve done a lot of harm over the last few decades by invading countries, kicking out existing governments that weren’t to your liking and leaving behind a destabilised mess that’s worse for everyone long term.

That’s what happened to how many Central and South American countries, again?

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Plenty in the middle east and Asia, some examples in Africa too. Basically, I can’t think of a great many real successes when it comes to fighting the red menace or trying to install more friendly government for purely political reasons, but I can think of many examples where the local population ended up off a lot worse due to that intervention. It will be nice to see diplomacy and other tools used rather than just sending in the troops, even if those things are not going to immediately save the people of Hong Kong (whose fate was sadly baked into the very agreement made with the UK that gave them a taste of democracy in the first place).

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

"Plenty in the middle east and Asia"

I think the ME stands out though; Supporting the corrupt dictator Pahlavi the younger in his coup against Mossadieq, then when Pahlavi turned out to be less desirable, assist the saintly old Imam Ruhollah Khomeini to get back to Iran from his exile, then when Khomeini turned out to not be too good for US interests, support a certain Saddam Hussein in a coup in Iraq against the promise to contain Iran…then finally invade Iraq to get rid of Saddam.

And of course meanwhile in the neighbourhood training the young Al-Quaeda organization to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, after which they turned on the US.

Almost all of US foreign policy has been trying to set up a new monster to deal with their old monster who’d slipped his leash.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Venezuela (human rights crisis on the border with Colombia, laws to stop delivery of basic food and staples…), Guatemala (coup engineered against the Sandinistas, which provoked mass unrests and a situation akin to civil war until the US backed government was removed), 2018 attempted coup in Nicaragua, backed by Trump, by the way Nicaragua is currently in the "crosshairs", US support for special forces training to drug cartels elite troops (like CJNG), and it’s not that in Colombia things are going great either. But that is just from the top of my head about the last 5 years, I am sure that you can easily find more.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

as for direct military intervention, although it is difficult to assess the current operations ongoing in South America and official information is mostly lies, for sure there is a tight relationship with Colombia at the moment, which is used against Venezuela and held in very high consideration by US Army officials (on the record), and in Mexico, where the situation is very far from being transparent, both on the border (crisis, no crisis, cages, no cages etc) and on the Mexican side. Then in South America there is another chapter about "vaccine diplomacy", which includes forcing several countries not to buy the Russian or the Cuban vaccines, while keeping a policy of America first and denying exports, essentially letting people die in the meanwhile, especially in Brazil. This might change in the upcoming months though, so in the end the result might be of "only" a few thousands additional deaths from covid that happened while the ban on vaccine exports from the US was in full effect, and alternatives were banned via economic pressure. Anyway, I did not get the purpose of the question about South America – exporting democracy and freedom in the Middle East and Africa is not enough?

Anonymous Coward says:

Disclaimer – the following is not intended as otherwording, or as an argument to justify the horrible things that are happening in China, which I condemn.
Question: is the legal argument made by the DOJ to justify the action of shutting down information iranian websites compliant with the constitution? Can someone explain the reason why? The claim is made about "disinformation", not violence related threats or other reasons that would justify an immediate takedown for security reasons. Is the simple association with "terrorist organizations", which is a label too conveniently politicized, like no-fly lists, enough to justify the takedown? I dont see how this is not a violation of press freedom – but maybe i am wrong. I always found the argument that US constitution protection does not apply to foreign entities unconvincing at best, as press freedom should be guaranteed above all. DOJ is enforcing a completely different point of view. And how is this selectively applied to Iran? https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/us-seizes-websites-of-iranian-state-backed-news-outlets-reports/ar-AALjYJr

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