Jimmy Lai, a democracy activist and owner of The Apple Daily media company based in Hong Kong, was arrested on Monday for breaking the new oppressive “National Security Law.” The law, which was passed by Beijing in June, seeks to undermine the autonomous status of Hong Kong and punish those who support freeing Hong Kong from China’s grip.
The Hong Kong police said that they arrested seven individuals aged between 39 and 72, but did not say who was arrested. Lai, 72, was seen being taken away from his home by the police in cuffs on Monday morning.
Reports claim that the others who were arrested include Lai’s sons and other top employees of Next Digital, a media company owned by Lai.
The Chinese regime asserts that the new security law prevents collusion with foreign forces, terrorism, secession, and terrorism. In fact, Beijing has called the legislation a “sword of Damocles,” which it is effectively using to intimidate critics and crush the freedoms previously enjoyed by Hongkongers.
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Speaking with Bloomberg, Carl Mizner, the author of End of an Era: How China’s Authoritarian Revival is Undermining Its Rise, said:
“With the passage of the national security law, Beijing has launched a full-blown rectification of Hong Kong.” The Fordham Law School professor continued to explain, “The ultimate goal is the ‘mainland-ization’ of Hong Kong — welding it more tightly to China and neutering all political and social elements that Party authorities view as problematic.”
Lai and his media network have previously criticized Beijing for undermining democracy in Hong Kong. Next Digital, particularly its flagship newspaper Apple Daily, participated in the 2019 protests calling for meaningful elections in Hong Kong.
The outlet’s support of Hong Kong protesters caused it to be hit with a massive DDoS attack from China last year.
It is also not the first time Lai has been arrested. Two months ago, a Hong Kong court summoned him for holding a vigil on June 4 during the Tiananmen Square massacre anniversary.
The new security law is not only affecting the autonomous status of Hong Kong but also its relationships with foreign governments. The Trump administration has led the international condemnation of the law and even removed some of the trading privileges that made the city one of the world’s leading business hubs. The US government also implemented sanctions against city officials, including Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
Last month, Lai conducted an interview with 60 Minutes Australia. Here’s a clip: