4 largest Nordic papers denounce Chinese attacks on Hong Kong media

Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily was forced to close in June.
Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily was forced to close in June.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

OSLO (AFP) - The four largest Nordic newspapers marked the centenary of the Chinese Communist Party's founding on Thursday (July 1) with a joint front-page editorial denouncing the regime's attacks on Hong Kong's media.

"Enough is enough," the open letter to the People's Republic of China said, adding: "The world can no longer stand idly by as China gradually sucks the air out of freedom of the press in Hong Kong."

Writing in Norway's Aftenposten, Sweden's Dagens Nyheter, Finland's Helsingin Sanomat and Denmark's Politiken, the editors in chief promised to "open our newspapers to an even more intensive coverage of the frightening developments in Hong Kong".

In June, the Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily was forced to close after its assets were frozen under the national security law and some of its executives were arrested for a series of articles published there.

While Hong Kong's leaders have made repeated speeches over the past year assuring that freedoms remain guaranteed, the expression of certain political views is a crime under the draconian law imposed on June 30 last year, punishable by life imprisonment.

"We watch with growing concern as our profession - free, independent, and critical journalism - is criminalised," the open letter said.

Before the closure of Apple Daily, the regime placed Radio Television Hong Kong under the control of the authorities and gave the police new Internet censorship powers, the editorial said.

The Nordic countries, which regularly top the Reporters Without Borders world press freedom rankings, have had several recent run-ins with China.

Diplomatic relations with Norway were frozen for six years after the Nobel committee - independent of the country's government - awarded the 2010 Peace Prize to imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo who died in 2017.

Tensions also arose between China and Sweden over the fate of the Chinese-Swedish publisher Gui Minhai, currently imprisoned in China on a 10-year sentence for "illegally providing intelligence overseas". The bookseller, who sold books critical of China's leadership, was detained by mainland police in 2018. He was seized while with Swedish diplomats on a Beijing-bound train.