fredag 25. juni 2021

In China, the media doesn't hold the powerful accountable. It ensures those in power hold on to it

For a large, supposedly all-powerful authoritarian state, a tabloid newspaper with a daily circulation of just 100,000 copies most likely wouldn't pose any serious challenge to its rule.But for China's ruling Communist Party, even that is seen as too much of a threat. This week, Hong Kong's largest and loudest pro-democracy tabloid, Apple Daily, was shuttered under pressure from the government — the latest target of the party's crusade against the city's opposition voices and rapidly shrinking freedoms since the imposition of a national security law a year ago.

In a way, Beijing's heavy-handed approach to bring Hong Kong to heel reflects a new level of self-confidence and assertiveness the Party has acquired under President Xi Jinping — no longer worried about repercussions from the West, it tightens control where it sees fit with a scornful disregard for the condemnation or sanctions that may follow.

But its obsession with control also betrays a deep-rooted insecurity. The supposedly omnipresent and omnipotent Communist Party is well aware of the power of the media and public opinion. Chinese state media has called Apple Daily "poisonous" and a "dangerous political organization," and tried to portray its closure as an event of "great satisfaction to the hearts of Hong Kong citizens."