Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai Chee-Ying, who was arrested on Monday Aug. 10 for allegedly colluding with foreign forces under Hong Kong’s repressive national security law, called on the United States to support the fight for freedoms in the semi-autonomous territory.
After being released on bail, the founder of Apple Daily spoke of his experience of being arrested during a live session organized by the Heritage Foundation where he stated that the behavior of the Chinese regime “went against international values.”
“If we don’t change [China], the world will not have peace,” Lai said, according to the South China Morning Post.
The Hong Kong businessman also alerted people to the radicalism in the city and urged them to prepare for a long struggle to deal with measures that undermine autonomy in the Special Administrative Region.
Lai was arrested along with two of his sons and four senior employees of the newspaper known for issuing harsh criticism of the CCP. A raid of the premises by more than 200 officials, provoked international condemnation that saw it as an attack on press freedom.
As Reuters pointed out, Lai’s arrest came amid repression by the Chinese Communist Party of the pro-democracy opposition in the city and further fueled concerns about the media and other freedoms promised when it ceased to be a British colony and returned to CCP control in 1997.
The arrest “bears out the worst fears that Hong Kong’s national security law would be used to suppress critical pro-democracy opinion and restrict press freedom,” said Steven Butler, program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists in Asia.
A spokesman for People’s Daily, half-controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, posted an online commentary Thursday saying that just because Lai was released on bail “doesn’t mean he can escape precise punishment under city law.”
Ryan Law, editor-in-chief of Apple Daily told Reuters that the newspaper would not be intimidated, saying business was “business as usual.”
Lai, 72, said he did not expect the arrests to occur so quickly given the “strong responses from the international community” after the CCP imposed the national security law on June 30.
“If they voice their support of Hong Kong, the politicians will have to listen and react. That would be a very good stamina for us,” Lay said, according to the SCMP.
Lai maintains the belief that efforts by the international community will contribute to changing the CCP’s behavior and attitudes that go against Western democratic values.
“Without assimilating into Western values, there won’t be peace in international trade, politics, and diplomacy,” said the Hong Kong media magnate.