Jimmy Lai: Arrested Hong Kong tycoon tells protesters to be 'careful'

Cheryl Sanders
August 13, 2020

The arrest of pro-democracy media mogul Jimmy Lai and the high-profile police raid on the Apple Daily newspaper this week has stoked widespread fears of the end of Hong Kong as a flourishing city where information and opinions were freely aired.

Chow, who was released on bail late at night on August 11, expressed gratitude for the widespread support she received in Japan on social media.

China has declared it will have jurisdiction over especially serious national security crimes, toppling the legal firewall between the mainland's party-controlled courts and Hong Kong's independent judiciary.

The Chinese government has labelled him a "traitor" in the past and issued a statement supporting his arrest, while the Beijing-backed China Daily newspaper said Lai's arrest showed "the cost of dancing with the enemy".

Among those arrested were two of Lai's sons, senior Apple Daily executives and three members of now disbanded pro-democracy party Demosisto - including 23-year-old Agnes Chow, a prominent activist.

In the hours after his arrest, Lai was taken to his office and his personal yacht as police searched for evidence.

The US last week imposed sanctions on several top officials over what it said was their role in curtailing political freedoms in Hong Kong.

The arrests of the media tycoon and others drew a sharp reaction from the West, which linked the move with a controversial national security law implemented in the semi-autonomous region last month.

Critics say it crushes freedoms, while supporters say it will bring stability after prolonged anti-China, pro-democracy protests previous year.

"We have to be more careful and creative in [our] resistance. we can't be as radical as before - especially young people - because the more radical [we are] the shorter lifespan we have in our fighting".

The new security law allows a punishment of up to life in prison for anything China considers subversion, secession, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces.

In 2019 the daily was the most-read paid newspaper in the territory, both in print and online, according to the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

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

Beijing said the security law has extraterritorial application, meaning it also applies to offenses committed outside the city by foreigners. He conceded, though, that Hong Kongers are helpless against such a powerful country. China responded with sanctions on top U.S. legislators and others.

Hong Kong is a major media hub with a vibrant local press and multiple global news outlets operating regional headquarters in the city. The attack on the newspaper is an indication that press freedom is no longer tolerated in Hong Kong, they say.

Wiping away tears from time to time during the livestream, Lai said the global support meant "what we are doing is right".

Local media reported that a new unit has been set up in Hong Kong's immigration department to vet visa applications for foreign journalists.

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