According to Article 27 of the Basic Law, Hong Kong residents have the right to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom to publish. However, under the new political situation, the authorities have been secretly removing a large number of books and news reports without disclosing the relevant lists.
Apple Daily was the first one on the chopping block. Apple Daily was a 26-year-old news outlet in Hong Kong that supported democratic activism before it was shut down by the National Security Law of Hong Kong.
Marking the first anniversary of Apple Daily’s closure, an online media, “hk.feature,” found that WiseNews, a news database that provides electronic newspaper clipping search services for Hong Kong public libraries, has deleted all the news reports by Apple Daily.
Since WiseNews also provides paid services to teachers and students, as well as primary and secondary schools, and tertiary institutions all over Hong Kong, the eradication of Apply Daily news might be a hint of its disappearance from the public domain.
Founded in 1996, Apple Daily was suspended on June 24, 2021, after several of its senior executives and journalists were accused, charged, and detained. The last print of its physical newspaper was released on June 24, 2021. A few days later, local journalists discovered that public libraries in Hong Kong under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD), had removed all the newspaper and physical copies of Apple Daily, Next Magazine, and books that were published by its founder, Jimmy Lai Chi-ying.
A year later, from the follow-up report of “hk.feature,” books, magazines, or any other publications by Apple Daily, including Jimmy Lai’s book “Dawn of the Entrepreneur,” which was recommended by the “Library Resource Selection” in 2015 and available for rental, had been taken down by the National Security Law.
The library staff did not deny that these sorts of publications have been pulled off the shelves and sent away.
As for other physical publications, when searched using the keyword “Apply Daily” in the Hong Kong Public Library search system, although 54 results were found, most of them belonged to the section of leisure and practical studies for further education.
Almost none of them were related to politics. The online media suspected LCSD was wiping out Apple Daily’s political publications.
The media reporters used the search system provided by WiseNews in the library and found nothing under “Apple Daily,” or the time that any of the data was deleted. Another search result was revealed using the keyword “June 4th;” it had lost 7.27 percent of its original clippings since the removal of Apple Daily. The cumulative loss was 14,143 results. If categorized by “Hong Kong Districts,” the loss is even more devastating at 17 percent.
As of writing this article, news agencies which remained in the current search results of “June 4th” in Hong Kong libraries, were mostly run by leftist pro-government outlets, including Wen Wei Po, Ta Kung Pao, Oriental Daily, and the like, and the only traditional paper seen was Ming Pao.
According to public records, WiseNews was founded in 1998, as an information content provider in the Greater China region. The agency is headquartered in Hong Kong, with branches in Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Macau, Taipei, and Taichung.
In 1999, WiseNews was sponsored by the Government Innovation and Technology Fund; it also established strategic partnerships with large enterprises such as Microsoft.
As of June 2017, WiseNews has over 470,000 content sources, containing more than 59 billion articles, and it is growing rapidly at 68 million articles per day.
Due to its massive news database, many teachers and students in Hong Kong pay to use the news search service provided by WiseNews.