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Hong Kongers rushed to buy pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily on Tuesday in a show of support for its owner, who was arrested a day earlier as police rounded up critics of China.

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A crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong has gathered pace since China imposed a sweeping security law in June, with opposition politicians disqualified and activists arrested for social media posts.

The moves have provoked outrage in the West and fear for millions who last year took to the streets to protest communist Chinas tightening grip on the semi-autonomous city.

In one of the most dramatic days of the crackdown, media tycoon Jimmy Lai was among 10 people detained under the new law on Monday as around 200 police officers searched the newsroom of his tabloid, which is unapologetically critical of Beijing.

In a show of solidarity for Lai, people in the city rushed to buy Tuesdays Apple Daily, with the newspaper saying it had upped its print run to 550,000 from its normal circulation of 70,000.

One restaurant owner bought 50 copies at a news stand in the commercial district of Mong Kok, saying he planned to give them away for free.

“Since the government doesnt allow Apple Daily to survive, then we as Hong Kongers have to save it ourselves,” the man, who gave his surname as Ng, told AFP.

The newspapers front page showed a picture of Lai being led away in handcuffs with a headline—in typical lurid red characters—that said “Apple will fight on”.

Dozens of people lined up in Mong Kok and around the city to buy the paper, with some also paying vendors in advance so other people could take a copy for nothing.

“Hong Kong is a place with press freedom, but the police now suppress press freedom in a high-profile way. I feel very angry,” said a woman called Chan, who bought 16 papers.

With Hong Kongers too fearful to stage mass protests like last year, and with events in recent weeks showing even dissenting social media posts could be punished, some looked to other inventive ways to show solidarity.

Lais arrest sparked a buying spree in shares of his media group, and its stock value rose by nearly 1,000 percent on Tuesday from Monday morning.

Eviscerated

Hong Kongs new national security law criminalises secession, subversion, terrorism and colluding with foreign forces.

The most serious crimes under the law, which was introduced on June 30 and is not supposed to be retroactive, carry up to life in jail.

Its broadly worded provisions criminalised certain political speech overnight, such as advocating sanctions, and greater autonomy or independence for Hong Kong.

Similar laws are used on the authoritarian mainland to snuff out opposition.

Lai, 71, was held on charges including colluding with foreign forces, as well as fraud, in an operation targeting his Next Digital publishing group.

Someone purchased every copy of todays Apple Daily from the Circle K in Sai Ying Pun and left them out for people to take for free. (Even attached the receipt as proof of purchase.) pic.twitter.com/2Kz9ljvxxk

— Timothy McLaughlin (@TMclaughlin3) August 11, 2020

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