Hong Kong protests bring crisis of confidence for traditional media

Young turn to social media as newspapers and TV stations owned by local tycoons take care not to offend mainland China

The Guardian, Wednesday 29 October 2014

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A Chinese Author Takes On China

Steven Thompson | 10 September 2014 | Asia Sentinel

How much did Joe Chung anger the Hong Kong and Beijing establishment, and what were the results?

Chung was one of the most controversial authors on the popular but now-defunct House News, a Hong Kong-based news website and content aggregator founded by former radio personality Tony Tsoi and others to cover covers politics, business, lifestyle, media, and local news.

Tsoi abruptly killed the site on July 26 despite a readership of 300,000 unique visitors a day. He has been incommunicado since.  However, in a notation on the website, he said he and his family were under pressure and that he was particularly fearful of what he called the White Terror.

Some observers credit Chung’s aggressiveness as one of the factors in the closure. Among other articles, his allegations of academic plagiarism of Xi Jinping’s PhD were believed to have caused House News to be shut down for several days due to hacking allegedly carried out by Chinese hackers.

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Jimmy Lai replies to ‘obituary’ with humor

14 August 2014 | EJ Insight

Next Media Group chairman Jimmy Lai Chee-ying on Thursday appeared on a short video in response to an anonymous obituary published by a local newspaper, saying he is sorry to have disappointed the author for still being alive.

“The joke is not good enough because I don’t look like I have AIDS… Do you want me to die? It’s so easy. Just keep cursing me, and with your mother’s power, perhaps one day I will die,” Lai said. “I am sorry to have let you down.”

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Hong Kong Newspaper Prints Fake Obituary of Rival’s Owner

Mike Forsythe and Alan Wong | 14 August 2014 | New York Times 

It was the journalistic equivalent of putting a horse’s head in your rival’s bed. Lai Chee-ying, 65, also known as Fatty Lai and a native of Shunde in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, had died of AIDS and cancer on Aug. 7. Since his family members were also sick, there would be no funeral.

So read the full-page obituary, in boldface Chinese characters, on page A7 of the Chinese-language Oriental Daily on Thursday. Although one character in the man’s name had been switched to another one with the same sound, the other biographical detailsmatched those of Jimmy Lai, owner of a rival newspaper, Apple Daily, and a well-known supporter of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement. There was no indication that it was a paid advertisement. It offered condolences to the employees of “Two Media.” In Chinese, Apple Daily’s parent company uses characters whose literal translation is “One Media.”

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‘White Terror’ Behind Hong Kong Web Closure?

John Berthelsen | 7 August 2014 | Asia Sentinel

Mainland pressure felt but rarely seen by local media

Somebody or something scared the shit out of Tony Tsoi Tung-ho. On July 20, he suddenly shut down House News, the most popular stand-alone Chinese-language website in Hong Kong.

The two-year-old website, modeled on the phenomenally popular US website Huffington Post and featuring an amalgam of columnists, journalists and observers who were often critical of China, had 300,000 unique viewers per day and was growing fast. It had garnered Hong Kong’s big luxury car dealers BMW, Mercedes and Audi as advertisers. It was reportedly on the edge of a tie-up with the Wall Street Journal.

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Hong Kong Journalists Association: Press freedom under siege: Grave threats to freedom of expression in Hong Kong

July 2014 | Hong Kong Journalists Association

“The Director of China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, Wang Guangya, also reportedly called on the media delegates to increase their coverage of opposition to the pan-democrat Occupy Central movement—a plan to occupy parts of the Central business district if the Hong Kong government fails to come up with a genuinely democratic proposal for electing the chief executive by universal suffrage in 2017.”

“Columnist Edward Chin, an active supporter of the Occupy Central movement and a hedge fund manager, said he had received advice from an editor in February 2014 to write only on financial matters. This was the first time in eight years that he was told what to write. He made the issue public and refused to compromise. His columns continue to be published in the same vein as before he received the advice.”

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China Censors Hong Kong’s ‘Occupy Central’ Referendum Vote On Weibo

Michelle Flor Cruz | 23 June 2014 | International Business Times

While hundreds of thousands of people in Hong Kong cast their votes in a sovereignty referendum over the weekend, mainland China’s censors quickly took action to quiet online discussion of the reform initiative on popular social media platform Weibo.

More than 700,000 Hong Kong residents cast their votes in the unofficial poll on electoral reform as part of a larger “Occupy Central with Love and Peace” movement, which promotes the international standard of “universal and equal suffrage” in elections for the chief executive of Hong Kong. China’s central government has instead announced that the upcoming 2017 election for the post will include nominees appointed by a mainland government committee.

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Big Banks Kowtow to Beijing

L. Gordon Crovitz | 22 June 2014 | Wall Street Journal

Hong Kong has ranked No. 1 every year over the two decades the Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal have issued their Index of Economic Freedom. But now the city’s political overlords in Beijing are doing all they can to end that winning streak—with the collaboration of Hong Kong’s top banks.

Once dismissed as a barren rock, Hong Kong became a prosperous financial center thanks to its free flow of information, English legal system and millions of hardworking immigrants from mainland China. When Britain returned the territory to China in 1997, Hong Kong’s people were promised 50 years of “one country, two systems” and elections. China now worries that the island’s freedom will spread to the mainland.

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Google Responds to Hong Kong Political Ad Blocking

Da Hai Han | 19 June 2014 | Voice of America

Google says it has reached a compromise with the Hong Kong Alliance for True Democracy over a political ad being blocked from the tech giant’s YouTube platform.

In a statement Thursday, the U.S.-based company said the group could run its ad as long as it removed mainland China as a target for distribution. The statement added that Google attached extreme importance to the right of political expression.

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Pro-Democracy Media Company’s Websites Attacked

Alan Wong | 18 June 2014 | New York Times

Next Media, which publishes Apple Daily, an independent Hong Kong newspaper often critical of the Chinese government, saw the largest attack ever against the company’s websites on Wednesday, taking the group’s websites offline for hours.

“The scale is so big that it overwhelmed the DDoS protection service provider we hired to prevent an outage like this,” said Tim Yiu, Next Media’s chief operating officer. In a DDoS, or distributed denial-of-service, attack, hackers command swarms of computers to generate an enormous flood of traffic to knock out the target websites. Mr. Yiu said he received the first reports of the attack at about 2 a.m., and access to Apple Daily’s Hong Kong website was brought to a near halt for about 12 hours. He expected full web services to resume by Thursday afternoon.

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Cyberattackers brought down Apple Daily website with 40 million hits every second

Lai Ying-kit | 18 June 2014 | South China Morning Post

A cyberattack on Apple Daily’s website saw more than 40 million enquiries sent to the site per second during its peak, bringing the system down and blocking normal web users from accessing pages for several hours, the company revealed today.

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Shenzhen court gives Hong Kong publisher Yiu Man-tin 10-year prison sentence

Angela Meng | 8 May 2014 | SCMP

“It’s a persecution of intellectuals for their words and a blow to Hong Kong’s freedom of speech and press.”

A Shenzhen court sentenced Hong Kong publisher Yiu Man-tin to 10 years in jail yesterday for “smuggling ordinary goods”, his lawyer said.

The retired engineer-turned-publisher, 73, who is also known as Yao Wentian, was detained on October 27. Prior to his arrest he had been preparing to publish a book entitled Godfather Xi Jinping by dissident and writer Yu Jie, according to his family and friends.

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Hong Kong Publisher’s Prison Sentence Is Called a Political Vendetta

Chris Buckley | 7 May 2014 | New York Times

HONG KONG — Rejecting defense arguments for leniency, a court in southern China sentenced a Hong Kong publisher to 10 years in prison on Wednesday for smuggling industrial chemicals. The family and supporters of the publisher, Yiu Mantin, has said the charges were a political vendetta brought on by his plans to publish a book condemning the Chinese Communist Party leader, Xi Jinping.

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