Media mogul Jimmy Lai, founder of Apple Daily, leaves the Court of Final Appeal by prison van in Hong Kong, China February 9, 2021.
FILE PHOTO: Media mogul Jimmy Lai, founder of Apple Daily, leaves the Court of Final Appeal by prison van in Hong Kong, China February 9, 2021. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

A Hong Kong court sentenced media tycoon and outspoken Chinese Communist Party critic Jimmy Lai alongside several other pro-democracy advocates to 14 months in prison. Lai, the founder of Hong Kong tabloid Apple Daily, was sent to prison for his role in a 2019 protest against Beijing’s increasing encroachment on Hong Kong’s autonomy.

State media outlet Global Times stated that Lai was sentenced for “attending and organizing two illegal assemblies,” adding that pro-CCP entities say “the sentence of riot leader may serve as reference for future cases, and boost confidence in Hong Kong’s political system.” The article also noted that the trial serves as a sort of “re-education for Hong Kong society” that will ease the once-autonomous city into acceptance of its place in greater China under the governing power of Beijing. 

Pro-democracy activist Lee Cheuk-yan was sentenced to 14 months of imprisonment for his participation in the same protests. Three former Hong Kong lawmakers were also sentenced, with “Longhair” Leung Kwok-hung receiving 18 months, Au Nok-hin receiving 10 months, and Cyd Ho receiving 8 months.

73-year-old Lai still faces the possibility of a lifetime behind bars as a result of his activism, as he is awaiting trial for charges of foreign collusion under the Beijing-imposed security laws, which are fiercely opposed by many Hong Kong residents. These sentences come amid Beijing’s crackdown on what remains of Hong Kong’s autonomy-focused “one country, two systems” policy. New legislation passed down from Beijing known as the “Patriots Only” rule ensures that a thorough vetting process will weed out any potential legislators who would challenge the CCP.

Many pro-democracy advocates continue to decry the crackdown on prominent dissenters. U.S.-Asia Law Institute founder Jerome Cohen calls the prosecution of Lai and others “effective intimidation.”

“Piling on of prosecutions against many of Hong Kong’s most distinguished liberal reformers not only removes them from the active scene but also deters and suffocates others,” he said.

President Joe Biden will meet with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga at the White House Friday as the two nations attempt to show public solidarity in an effort to curb China’s increasing aggression. Human rights violations in Xinjiang and Hong Kong are expected to be a part of the discussion between the two leaders. Chinese diplomats deny human rights violations against Uighur Muslims despite abundant evidence of forced labor and human rights abuses, pointing to the United States’ history with slavery as a defense of China’s record on human rights.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of articles showing different viewpoints on the topic.

Blow for Hong Kong pro-democracy movement as Jimmy Lai and fellow activists jailed – The Age – 4/16/2021
“When the people, in the last resort, had to give collective expression to their anguish and urge the government to respond, protected only by their expectation that the government will respect their rights, I must be prepared to stand with them, stand by them and stand up for them,” she said.

HK media tycoon Jimmy Lai jailed – The Canberra Times – 4/16/2021
Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai has been sentenced to 14 months in prison while nine other activists received jail time or suspended sentences for taking part in unauthorised assemblies during pro-democracy protests in 2019. Senior barrister Martin Lee, who helped launch the city’s largest opposition Democratic Party in the 1990s and is often called the former British colony’s “father of democracy,” was given an 11-month suspended sentence.

Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai faces two new charges of national security – Apple Daily – 4/16/2021
Li was one of 12 Hongkongers detained in the neighboring Chinese city of Shenzhen after they were intercepted by mainland coastguard while trying to flee to Taiwan in a speedboat last August. He was returned to Hong Kong in March after finishing a seven-month prison term, but continued to be kept in custody over a charge of colluding with foreign forces.

Hong Kong ‘Father of Democracy’ Martin Lee handed suspended jail sentence over peaceful 2019 demo – Hong Kong Free Press – 4/16/2021
Hong Kong’s “Father of Democracy” Martin Lee was handed a jail sentence of 11 months, suspended for 24 months on Friday for organising and participating in an unauthorised assembly in 2019, whilst pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai received 12 months behind bars.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of tweets showing different viewpoints on the topic.

There's depth. And then there's in-depth.

To get beyond the news and receive actionable intelligence about this topic or thousands more, simply enter your email address below.

You May Also Like

Biden announces gun control measures, urges Congress to act

NRA accuses the president of targeting law-abiding gun owners and ignoring criminals

India grapples with coronavirus surge, countries including US send aid

Experts say current counts could represent just a fraction of its spread