Taiwan’s “Apple Daily” announced heavily on the 14th that under the influence of factors such as monopoly on advertising and deteriorating situation in Hong Kong, the paper-based “Apple Daily” will be forced to officially cease publication on the 18th, ending the paper media business that has been operating in Taiwan for 18 years. However, Apple Daily stressed that the spirit of Apple will not be discounted and will focus its resources on online media in the future to straighten its back and continue to serve the readers it supports.
The open letter of Taiwan Apple Daily pointed out that Taiwan Apple Daily “was once the highest-selling and most widely read newspaper in Taiwan for a long time,” but “the digital flood is beyond our imagination, especially the monopoly of Google, Facebook and other digital platforms, resulting in a large amount of advertising resources The loss of advertising resources is a painful blow to the paper media.”
“The political situation in Hong Kong has deteriorated at an accelerated pace, with democracy in the dust and press freedom being suppressed across the board. Founder Lai Chi-ying is now in prison in Hong Kong after being convicted for his remarks in pursuit of democracy. The pro-China forces have blocked all kinds of advertising resources, making the operation of Hong Kong’s Apple Daily very difficult, but fortunately, thanks to the support of readers’ belief in the pursuit of freedom, it still holds the most important bastion of freedom of the press.”
“Taiwan Apple Daily did not lose in the battlefield of news, but we lost in another battlefield due to the internal and external pressures: we lost in the monopolization of advertising resources, and we lost in the deterioration of the situation in Hong Kong, which caused us to be unable to sustain losses in the long run. We had to announce the cessation of paper publication and focus all resources on digital.”
The open letter said that after the suspension, “we deplore that public opinion has one less outlet in the traditional media; we deplore that readers have one less important choice on the newspaper shelves”, “but what we have to say is that we endure the pain of parting with the paper, but we dare not, and cannot, part with our media responsibility to be the mouthpiece of the people, to pursue justice, and to defend democratic freedom.”
The open letter stated that in the future, resources would be concentrated more on Apple News, “The spirit of Apple will not be discounted, but will only stand up straighter and reward its supportive readers with the best coverage.”
On the same day that Taiwan’s Apple Daily announced its suspension, Hong Kong’s Security Bureau announced that it had frozen 71 percent of Next Media shares held by Apple Daily founder Lai Chi-ying and the bank accounts of three private companies owned by Lai Chi-ying’s property, according to the Hong Kong version of the National Security Law.
The Hong Kong Journalists Association then issued a statement saying that the move undermines the rule of law and Hong Kong’s status as an international financial center. HKJA President Yeung Kin-hing said the authorities are not only suppressing Next Media, but also creating fear in the entire journalism industry.
Benedict Rogers, founder of the British human rights organization Hong Kong Watch, said the international community should use the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act to sanction those involved in the incident and to protect Hong Kong’s democracy.