Caught up in US-election farce, Apple Daily just a ‘political tool’

â–²Hong Kong police officers escort media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying after his arrest on Monday. Photo: Xinhua

Although Hong Kong tabloid Apple Daily denied its involvement in writing a smear piece on US presidential candidate Joe Biden through targeting his son Hunter Biden, the denial does not change the fact that it is “a political tool” rather than a media outlet, Chinese experts noted on Sunday. 

US media NBC reported on Friday that Apple Daily had commissioned a 64-page intelligence report to smear Biden, which “exposed the ties” of Hunter Biden to Ukraine and China. 

According to NBC, one of the people who posted the document is a former professor at Fulbright University Vietnam in Hanoi, Christopher Balding, who blogs about China. Balding admitted he had been commissioned by Apple Daily to fabricate the document.

Apple Daily later claimed its founder Jimmy Lai had “no knowledge about the matter from start to finish,” and that Apple Daily has “nothing to do” with the report.

However, Lai admitted that his top aide Mark Simon had been involved and the funding came from one of Lai’s companies, allegedly without his knowledge. Mark Simon, Lai’s top aide, claimed responsibility for the incident, apologized, and resigned as Lai’s executive on Saturday. But many netizens suspected he was a scapegoat for Lai.

“Even if Lai himself denied involvement, the history of Lai and his Apple Dailymakes it hard not to suspect they are doing some dirty work for the Trump administration,” Fan Peng, a member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong & Macao Studies, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Apple Daily has long been slammed for publishing sensational and fake articles. Its founder Jimmy Lai is infamous for his support of Hong Kong rioters and instigating violent protests. He bought Hong Kong stocks ahead of the anti-government movement in 2014, colluded with foreign politicians and even made a plea for reckless interference from foreign countries in Hong Kong’s affairs.

“Apple Daily has always been more of a political tool than a news outlet exercising its watchdog powers,” Fan said, “Representing the extremist camp in Hong Kong led by Jimmy Lai, Apple Daily has been working to tear apart Hong Kong society for the past two decades, and has never taken the responsibility as media.”

“US right-wing forces are used to mobilizing their advocacy groups and agents around the world especially before every presidential election,” Fan noted, “it is not surprising as Apple Daily is a pawn they use routinely.”  

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