Hong Kong̵7;s Apple Daily has said it will “fight” after the arrest of boss Jimmy Lai under controversial security laws imposed by Beijing.
In special scenes released by the newspaper on Monday, a handcuffed Mr. Lai was led through his newsroom when nearly 200 policemen raided the building.
The pro-democracy activist was among the 10 arrested for colluding with foreign forces.
The move has sparked global condemnation of the increasingly escalating persecution of dissidents.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that China was “evading Hong Kong freedoms”.
On Tuesday, the front page of Apple Daily appeared a picture of Lai in handcuffs with the headline: “Apple Daily must fight.”
In some areas of the city, Hong Kongers were found waiting in line to buy a copy as early as 2:30 when vendors reported having sold out a popular tabloid founded by Mr Lai. .
The newspaper, which released a rare and unpublished book about the leaders of Hong Kong and China, said more than 500,000 copies were printed, up from the usual 100,000.
Mr. Lai, who is seen by many in Hong Kong as a hero for directly criticizing Beijing’s top leader, is the top detainee under the new law to date.
But on land, he has long been labeled a traitor.
Several hours after their arrest, prominent youth activists Agnes Chow and Wilson Li, a freelance journalist, were also arrested under similar laws.
The arrests have sparked criticism from Washington, London and the United Nations over increasingly heightened attacks on the city’s freedoms.
“I am extremely worried by the reports of @JimmyLaiApple’s arrest under Hong Kong’s draconian National Security Law,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted.
He wrote: “More evidence that the CCP has stripped Hong Kong of its freedoms and undermined the rights of the people.
Similar sentiment is expressed in Britain, which has said it will suspend the extradition treaty with Hong Kong and provide a pathway to citizenship for many city dwellers, under the new law.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesperson told Reuters: “This is yet more evidence that national security law is being used as an excuse to silence the opposition. “The Hong Kong government must protect the rights and freedoms of its people.”
The controversial security law introduced to Hong Kong in June caused some of the city’s top activists to flee abroad in anticipation of a broader crackdown on freedoms. of the city.
Speaking from London, pro-democracy activist Nathan Law told the BBC that the arrest “is definitely a retaliation against US sanctions on Hong Kong officials”.
Earlier, the US had punished 11 Chinese officials and allies in Hong Kong – including Hong Kong CEO Carrie Lam – for cutting political freedoms.
A few days later, Beijing responded with sanctions on 11 US citizens.
Mr. Law also described this as the latest step “to quell Hong Kong’s freedom”, to silence Hong Kongers and create a larger “politics of fear”.
Warning for press clubs
In another sign of a surge in Hong Kong’s media, Chinese officials issued a stern warning to the city’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club of their claims. condemned the raids and arrests on Monday.
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The Chinese Foreign Ministry Commissioner’s Office in Hong Kong asked the FCC “to stop defaming the implementation of the” new law “on the grounds of freedom of the press,” Xinhua reported.
“The FCC hastily jumped out to justify Lai, which is to help and cooperate with anti-China forces to disrupt Hong Kong,” said a spokesman for the office.
The UN also expressed new concerns.
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet urged the authorities to monitor the operation of the law and “amend the law if necessary to ensure there is no scope for abuses of this law to limit human rights. guaranteed by international law and basic law of Hong Kong “.
Human Rights Watch said the attack on Apple Daily could also be an attempt to limit circulation of the newspaper.
“Under Xi Jinping, the Communist Party has long been appalled by public opinion on the mainland, and is using new national security laws to try to smash Hong Kong’s independent voice and mediate billions. number with longtime critics, “said HRW Asia director Brad Adams. .
Last year, pro-democracy protests broke out in Hong Kong over plans to allow extradition from this territory to mainland China. While this proposal was eventually withdrawn, the protests continued, to reflect broad demands on democratic reform.