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NEWSLETTER: Jimmy Lai’s National Security Trial to Start Next Week

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

Welcome to the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation weekly newsletter. Every week, this newsletter will bring you the latest updates and developments concerning freedom in Hong Kong. To subscribe to our newsletter, click here.

Jimmy Lai Jimmy Lai’s national security trial starts on Thursday 1st December in Hong Kong. He is on trial on specious charges of conspiracy to publish seditious materials and collusion with foreign powers to endanger national security. If convicted, his sentence could be life in prison. The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation (CFHK Foundation) President Mark Clifford stated the trial is another “that holds little hope for justice. We expect it will become just another marker in the dismantling of the rule of law in Hong Kong. The CFHK Foundation will continue to fight for Jimmy Lai and his unequivocal release.” CFHK Foundation’s Olivia Enos has written in the National Catholic Reporter this week that the US must hold China accountable for targeting Hong Kong Catholics. Enos writes “deteriorations in liberty in Hong Kong serve as a visible reminder of how swiftly democratic freedoms can be lost. The targeting of peaceful citizens like [Jimmy] Lai and [Cardinal] Zen reminds us that the religious freedom enjoyed by millions of Hong Kongers is in peril.” Ahead of Lai’s trial next week, the Hong Kong Department of Justice applied to appeal against a decision to let UK lawyer Tim Owen to represent him. The Department’s latest application marked its fourth attempt to block the admission of Owen, reported the Hong Kong Free Press. Hong Kong World Rugby has apologised to Hong Kong over the “accidental” mislabelling of the national anthem which led to ‘Glory to Hong Kong’ being played during a game. The South China Morning Post reported that during a brief statement on Wednesday, the sport’s governing body apologised to the city’s residents, the government and the Hong Kong Rugby Union. Alistair Carmichael MP, chair of the UK Hong Kong All-Party Parliamentary Group, has called for the UK Government to sanction Chinese and Hong Kong officials who are guilty of human rights abuses. In Politics Home, Carmichael states that “it is time for the UK Government to impose sanctions on individuals responsible for these violations – this is the UK’s opportunity to support the democratic values we believe in, as well as upholding our historical commitment.” The former CEO of Apple Daily’s parent company Next Digital and five senior employees pleaded guilty this week to conspiracy to commit collusion with a foreign country or external elements. Their case was heard by a panel of three handpicked national security judges, and some will testify in Jimmy Lai’s upcoming trial, reported the Hong Kong Free Press. China Germany is set to take a tougher line on China as it adopts its China Strategy early next year. The country wants to push companies to deduce their dependence on Beijing, while also promoting EU efforts to negotiate an investment agreement with Taiwan, reported Politico. This draft document warns that the Chinese leadership "is willing and capable" to employ its market "as leverage" to extract concessions from other countries. The document also criticizes "massive human rights violations" in China's autonomous regions of Tibet and Xinjiang, which is home to the Uyghur Muslim minority. A report by Hong Kong Watch and the Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice has found that 11 pension funds are passively funding crimes against humanity in Xinjiang. The report includes recommendations to government including creating a list of banned entities, banning investments in companies complicit in engaging state-imposed forced labour and passing legislation banning the import of goods with ties to forced labour. Authorities in China have reacted with anger after the UK forced a Chinese tech company to draw down its ownership of the UK’s largest microchip factory. Sky News reported that the decision was made on national security grounds following an assessment that was ordered by former UK Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng. Scottish Ministers are phasing out devices made by Chinese company Hikvision, in a move inspired by some UK Government departments. The Scottish Government said it “has a number of legacy items manufactured by Hikvision which are being phased out as part of an ongoing security improvement programme,” reported The Times. Hong Kongers in the UK The Greater Manchester Police have identified “a number of offences including assaults and public order offences” following the attack on Bob Chan last month. The force is yet to make any arrests and has only received one minor injury report from one of their officers, however, Assistant Chief Constable Chris Sykes stated that the police have identified a number of potential suspects and victims, reported the Hong Kong Free Press. The Guardian reported this week on a group of Hong Kongers who have started new lives in Colchester after fleeing their home city. The group are volunteering in a café to hone their English skills and gain experience for their CVs. The volunteer coordinator, Pepi Sanchez, said that she wanted to give the Hong Kongers “a community base, so that everyone can feel safe, and not be afraid of saying whatever they want to.”

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