China Compares Apple Daily Shutdown to Big Tech Blocking Parler

In this photo illustration the Parler logo seen displayed on a smartphone screen. (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Chinese state media on Friday claimed the destruction of pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily in Hong Kong was no different than American tech companies colluding to shut down the social media platform Parler.

It also compared the Apple Daily shutdown, preceded by hundreds of police officials raiding its offices, to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) taking action against media outlets that violate broadcast standards.

China’s state Xinhua news service railed against Western politicians for “smearing” China, demonstrating their “hypocrisy and double standards,” and interfering in China’s “internal affairs” by criticizing the crackdown on Apple Daily, raided by Hong Kong police last week and driven out of business.

Beijing’s puppet government in Hong Kong claimed Apple Daily violated the island’s authoritarian “national security law” and “colluded” with foreign powers by quoting Western media sources and supporting human rights sanctions against the Chinese state.

Xinhua claimed everything done to Apple Daily was “in accordance with the law” and no different than what Western governments do:

There has never been such a thing as absolute press freedom. As a matter of fact, those Western countries that are trying to disparage China have strict regulations on the production of news, as well as red lines on freedom of speech or press. Some are even intensifying their restrictions.

In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission is responsible for managing and licensing media outlets and the content those media produce all across the country.

In Germany, speeches like Holocaust denial and other forms of incitement to hatred against segments of the population are punishable by imprisonment of up to five years. In 2017, Germany passed the Network Enforcement Act, which requires Internet platforms to take action against hate, harassment and terror propaganda.

Xinhua claimed Westerners only support Apple Daily because they want to “instigate hatred and spread disinformation” to “stoke chaos in Hong Kong and pressure China.”

“Hong Kong is not a lawless land, and press freedom should not be an excuse. No one who violates the law of Hong Kong will go unpunished,” the Communist news service vowed.

An editorial at China’s state-run Global Times hit the same talking points, wondering how any American official could criticize the crackdown on Apple Daily after what Big Tech did to upstart social media platform Parler in 2020:

No Western country would allow the existence of such a hub that manipulates public opinion to counter constitutional system of the country. Any media outlet that has gained inciting power to oppose the mainstream will not be spared. For example, after former US President Donald Trump’s Twitter account was permanently shut down, his supporters gathered on the app Parler, which was banned for good.

We have to point out that Trump’s account and Parler pose much less of a constitutional challenge to the US than what Apple Daily posed to Hong Kong’s constitutional system. The former is a deviation, while the latter is blatant confrontation. The “silencing” of Trump reflects the extent to which anti-establishment dissent is truly tolerated in the US.

The Global Times further insisted the persecution of Apple Daily’s owners, staff, and financial backers was no different than British police strengthening social media regulations after the London riots of 2011, or current concerns in the United States about a repeat of the January 6 riot at the Capitol.

“Freedom of the press is a good thing. The West’s freedom of speech must be consistent with national interests and public security. However, the Western countries demand for Apple Daily to have the freedom to jeopardize Hong Kong’s security and the national interests of China,” the Global Times insisted.

The editorial concluded by pushing the key Chinese Communist Party propaganda line that no other nation has the moral stature to criticize China for human rights abuses, from forced labor to crushing freedom of speech and assembly.

“Western intervention in Apple Daily’s shutdown is pale and weak. The intervention has also completely lost its moral force. It’s a manifestation of the hypocrisy of the West’s value system,” the Global Times asserted. 

“The West is facing an increasing number of problems. They prioritize national interests at home, but demand the so-called “universal value” be put above all outside their countries. Such increasing incoherence will tear apart their hypocritical morality,” it predicted.


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