Hong Kong residents buy Apple Daily to show support

Apple Daily’s parent Next Digital’s share price skyrockets

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Brisk sales of Apple Daily's Chinese edition
Brisk sales of Apple Daily's Chinese edition

When asked to comment on his arrest on Monday morning, Jimmy Lai is reported to have said of the police, “What else could they do.” While the Hong Kong authorities arrested Lai, the publisher of Apple Daily, to enforce the new national security law that takes away the ‘one country two system’s concept that was supposed to apply to the former British territory for another 20 years, there has been an outpouring of support from residents. A total of ten people were arrested, including the pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow who was arrested on Monday night.

The editor and staff have said they will continue their editorial stand for democratic rights in the semi-autonomous territory in opposition to Beijing’s homogenization of its legal and political system into its own. Ryan Law, the chief editor of Apple Daily, said the paper would not be intimidated by the raid.

On the morning of 11 August, there were queues at downtown newsstands to buy copies of Apple Daily in an energetic show of support. Sales were brisk with the paper printing 500,000 copies instead of the usual 100,000. The front page had a photo of the police taking Lai away with the headline, ‘Apple will fight on.’

On Monday, the share price of Apple Daily’s parent company, Next Digital, rose more than 300%. On Tuesday afternoon, it has gone up another 500% from Monday’s closing stock price.

Steven Butler, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Asia program coordinator, said the arrest “bears out the worst fears that Hong Kong’s National Security Law would be used to suppress critical pro-democracy opinion and restrict press freedom. Jimmy Lai should be released at once and any charges dropped.”

While police have not released details of the cause of arrest, it is presumed that Lai will be accused of collusion with a foreign power, which the law criminalizes. Lai has been a visitor to Washington to solicit support for Hong Kong democracy and met up with US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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