Taipei, June 23 (CNA) Taiwan Vice President Lai Ching-te on Wednesday called on Beijing to stop oppressing the media in Hong Kong, where the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily is facing a shutdown after a crackdown by police.
In a post on Facebook, Lai criticized Hong Kong police for recent operations that targeted the Hong Kong edition of Apple Daily, which has been critical of the authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing, for undermining freedoms and human rights in the city.
Hong Kong police raided Apple Daily's newsroom and arrested five executives with the newspaper and Next Digital, a media group that publishes Apple Daily, on June 17 on national security grounds.
The police have also frozen the assets of Apple Daily and its related companies.
Lai urged Beijing to stop oppressing the freedom of the press and speech and said Taiwan will stand with the people of Hong Kong.
As the police investigation continues, Next Digital announced Wednesday in a press release that the Hong Kong edition of Apple Daily will be terminated after 26 years of publication "due to the current circumstances prevailing in Hong Kong."
The print edition will come to an end by Sunday, while its digital version will no longer be accessible after 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, the statement said.
Among the five people arrested last week, Next Digital's Chief Executive Officer Cheung Kim-hung and Apple Daily's Editor-in-Chief Ryan Law have been charged with collusion with foreign forces and remained detained while the other three were released on bail.
Dozens of articles published by Apple Daily have been held against the detainees, making it the first time that newspaper articles are deemed by the authorities to potentially be evidence of crimes under the national security law, which Beijing imposed on the city on June 30, 2020.
According to Lai, many Hong Kong people have defied the government, claiming that Apple Daily sold 500,000 copies the day after the police raided the media organization last week.
In fact, it remains unclear how many copies the newspaper sold that day, but it printed 500,000 copies, up from 80,000 the previous day.