8 September 2023 – Last night in Washington D.C., the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation (CFHK Foundation), Ronald Reagan Institute and Foundation for Defense of Democracies hosted a screening of The Hong Konger, which highlights Jimmy Lai’s extraordinary struggle for freedom.
A panel discussion followed the showing, featuring Sebastien Lai, son of Jimmy Lai; Caoilfhionn Gallagher KC, lead international lawyer for Jimmy Lai and Sebastien Lai; Mark Clifford, President of the CFHK Foundation; Sunny Cheung, Visiting Fellow at Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University; and Jay Nordlinger, Senior Editor at National Review.
In a packed room, the panellists underscored Jimmy Lai’s courage despite his repeatedly delayed national security trial that is now expected to begin on 18 December 2023. The panellists also considered the declining state of Hong Kong as a global financial hub and in terms of freedom, noting the HK$1 million bounties that remain on the heads of eight Hong Kong pro-democracy activists overseas. The panel concluded by urging the U.S. and U.K. governments to continue to publicly call for the immediate and unconditional release of British citizen Jimmy Lai. Sebastien Lai, son of Jimmy Lai, said: “During the handover, my father was asked if he would leave Apple Daily if China came for him. He said it was time to see if they were willing to pay a high price for their convictions. And he has paid every day for some thirty odd years… I want to see my dad for Christmas. I want him to be there for my marriage that I had a year ago. But it is not my place to go between my dad and his beliefs. So, I’m not surprised, I’m proud.” Speaking to Jimmy Lai’s devout Catholic faith, Mark Clifford, President of the CFHK Foundation, said: “Don’t think of Jimmy as a victim. He is as free as he has ever been. He has embraced this and views himself as on a mission. The Apple Daily Seven are being held hostage in jail, waiting for their trials despite saying they would plead guilty. We have talked about the U.K., we have talked about the U.S., but we as a civil society need to make sure our governments are making a big deal about this.”