Censorship Freedom: Hong Kong Newspaper Launches on the Blockchain Using DeFi Protocols

Hong Kong activists are scurrying to preserve the back catalogue of pro-democracy newspaper the Apple Daily by uploading thousands of articles onto the censorship-proof blockchain platform ARWeave.

ARWeave is a decentralised file storage platform that breaks down a file into bits of information distributed over an open network of anonymous computers around the world. It describes itself as acollectively owned hard drive that never forgets.

After a 26-year run, the Apple Daily was forced to cease publication on June 23 after being targeted by a national security crackdown for breaching vaguely formulated offences as China’s grip over free speech tightens.

Five Executives Arrested, Assets Frozen

Last week, 500 officers raided the newspaper’s headquarters, going through reporters’ notes and other journalistic material. Police froze assets of companies linked to the Apple Daily and arrested five executives.


Following the raid, the Apple Daily closed its website and erased all its social media platforms. In anticipation of popular demand for its final print run, the paper printed 1 million copies, more than 10 times its usual run.

Staff members of Apple Daily and its publisher Next Digital with the final edition at the paper’s headquarters in Hong Kong, June 24. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Democratic Leaders Condemn Closure of Apple Daily

The shutdown is the most serious blow yet to Hong Kong’s media freedoms. US President Joe Biden described it as “a sad day for media freedom in Hong Kong and around the world, adding that the Apple Daily had been a much-needed bastion of independent journalism in Hong Kong.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab asked China to respect the agreement signed in 1997 committing to continue allowing free media in Hong Kong after the colony’s reversion to China from British rule.

We certainly view what’s been happening with the closure of the Apple Daily and the arrest of journalists very, very seriously. We call on China to respect the terms that it freely signed up to and we think that’s a matter of trust as well as important for the people of Hong Kong.

Dominic Raab, British Foreign Secretary

Apple Daily owner Jimmy Lai has been behind bars since last December over unauthorised rallies during Hong Kong’s mass pro-democracy protests in 2019. Lai is facing three national security charges, including colluding with a foreign country, and is already serving several jail sentences.

As the fight for free speech in Hong Kong continues, blockchain technology is playing a vital role in advocating for human rights in China – providing a platform where repressed citizens can resist centralised power by accessing decentralised networks that are immune from state censorship and impossible to silence.

New Blockchain Platform LikeCoin Embraced

Programmer Kin Ko has been building a decentralised registry called LikeCoin, which helps internet users identify metadata (creator, date, time, location, version) of content through a unique code called an International Standard Content Number (ISCN), similar to a book’s distinctive International Standard Book Number (ISBN). Any changes made to content would be recorded and tracked through a digital fingerprint. LikeCoin has been embraced by pro-democracy activists such as Citizen News, already using the platform to catalogue its online images.

The open-source transparency and immortality of blockchain technology poses a grave threat to those in power in China, who are desperate to keep authoritarian control over the narrative of the country’s media.

Caitlin Carey

Caitlin Carey

Caitlin is a crypto evangelist with a deep curiosity and passion for learning and writing about everything to do with cryptocurrency. She has a background as a performing artist and songwriter and is a digital media enthusiast, with a bachelor degree in Multimedia.

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