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Four Nordic newspapers protest against China’s violation of freedom of the press in Hong Kong


To the People’s Republic of China

Four leading newspapers from the Nordic countries join in a protest against China’s violation of freedom of the press in Hong Kong. The protest follows the closure of the newspaper Apple Daily and is published on the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Chinese Communist Party.

It has been too much for a long time. Now, enough is enough. The world can no longer stand idly by as China gradually sucks the air out of freedom of the press in Hong Kong. Our hope that China would live up to its assurances and promises that basic democratic civil liberties would be defended and protected in Hong Kong has been dwindling lately, while our fear and disdain has been growing.

Last issue of Apple Daily arrive at a newspaper booth in Hong Kong, early Thursday, June 24, 2021. Hong Kong's pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper will stop publishing Thursday, following last week's arrest of five editors and executives and the freezing of $2.3 million in assets under the city's year-old national security law. AP Photo/Vincent Yu

The last – possibly naive – hope regrettably died when the independent newspaper Apple Daily collapsed under the violation of freedom of the press by the authorities. We watch with growing concern as our profession – free, independent, and critical journalism – is criminalized. And we watch with growing concern as this development affects one media outlet after the other, most recently Apple Daily, in the Hong Kong that once held so much promise. Before that, it was Radio Television Hong Kong that was placed under the control of the authorities, while the police was granted new powers to censor the internet.

Media owners, producers and journalists are prosecuted and thrown in jail for working in their profession and doing their job as the voice of the public.

And the list goes on …

We are a group of editors-in-chief from the leading newspapers in the Nordic countries that wish to express our backing and moral support for our colleagues at Apple Daily and other media outlets in Hong Kong that have been robbed of the opportunity to provide unhindered and uncensored critical journalism on behalf of the public. We protest against the Chinese rulers that like to portray themselves as a benevolent power. But there is nothing benevolent in a state attacking a free press. There is nothing noble in that.

On the contrary, we see the attacks on the free press as a sign of weakness. They reflect a government that in spite of great progress in many other areas in recent decades, can hardly believe that it exists for the benefit of the people. Otherwise, there would be no reason to suppress it.

We believe that every time Beijing suppresses opposition and criticism, the spirit of resistance grows. For every time a media outlet is suppressed, a new one will hopefully emerge.

Therefore, it is time to change course. It is now – at the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Chinese Communist Party – that the People’s Republic of China must live up to its name as a republic for the people and not just for its rulers.

The defence of a free press is part of that battle. And we will not just be a part of that defence. We will intensify it and open our newspapers to an even more intensive coverage of the frightening developments in Hong Kong. We will do it by using that freedom of the press that is denied our colleagues in Hong Kong.

One can hold back the truth and freedom with power. But only for a time. We must stand together to show that the force of enlightenment will win in the end. We must stand together to show that information that may be censored in Hong Kong will emerge somewhere else in the world. We must stand together.

Christian Jensen,
Editor in Chief
Politiken
Denmark

Peter Wolodarski,
Editor in Chief
Dagens Nyheter
Sweden

Kaius Niemi,
Editor in Chief
Helsingin Sanomat
Finland

Trine Eilertsen,
Editor in Chief
Aftenposten
Norway


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