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NEWSLETTER: Sebastien Lai Urges British Government to Push for His Dad's Freedom

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

Committee News

Fifteen university professors from ten nations have nominated five Hong Kong political prisoners for the Nobel Peace Prize. CFHK Foundation advisory board member Perry Link wrote, “The five we are nominating symbolise the hopes not only of millions of Hong Kong people who are worried about the fate of their city but also of countless people on the China mainland who cannot express their views.”

Jimmy Lai

Sebastien Lai urged the British government to take immediate action to release his father, Jimmy Lai, a British citizen. Sebastien Lai told the CFHK Foundation, “It is [the British government’s] duty to protect one of their own citizens. They must speak out for the democratic values that underpin our nation’s freedom.” Following two promised yet unfulfilled meeting requests with a British foreign office minister, Jimmy Lai’s London-based lawyers requested a meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. The BBC reported that Mr Lai’s international legal team is prepared to discuss “potential ways to secure Mr Lai’s release”. The South China Morning Post reported on the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) accusations that the UK was interfering with Hong Kong’s legal system after Jimmy Lai’s lawyers met with Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the British Minister of State for the Indo-Pacific. The UK’s action on behalf of one of its citizens who has devoted his life to promoting democratic ideals is simply an attempt to safeguard the rights of a British national. The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong delisted Jimmy Lai’s Next Digital (publisher of Apple Daily) under the direction of John Lee. The CFHK Foundation’s Mark Clifford commented, “Next Digital’s removal from the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong provides more evidence of Lee’s willingness to destroy Hong Kong’s entrepreneurial spirit and the freedom that allowed talented entrepreneurs like Jimmy Lai to build businesses, creating jobs and wealth by giving consumers what they wanted – the truth.”

Hong Kong

The Hong Kong authorities’ sedition trial against former Stand News editor Chung Pui-kuen continued this week. Chung stated that covering Hong Kong’s political primaries should not be considered a crime, according to the Hong Kong Free Press. Professor Justin Wong of Hong Kong Baptist University fled from Hong Kong after the CCP targeted a recent academic article he wrote about visual imagery in the 2019 pro-democracy protests. The Hong Kong Free Press noted that the article discussed the role of visual symbols such as yellow umbrellas and masks from the movie V is for Vendetta, played in the 2019 democracy movement. The article featured a stylized representation of the once-popular slogan, “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times.” The slogan is now illegal. Beijing reopened its land and sea borders with Hong Kong for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Washington Post reported that this significant change also eliminates China’s strict quarantine requirement. Hong Kong discarded its COVID-19 contact tracing application that raised privacy concerns. According to Bloomberg, the elimination of the application removes the final element of the CCP’s pandemic infrastructure in Hong Kong. The CCP instructed the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong to include ‘China’ in their official name by July 1st. Channel News Asia reported that noncompliance may cause Hong Kong’s sports leagues to lose funding and their right to participate in major sporting competitions.

UK-China Relations

Hong Kong’s streaming service TVB will cancel all BBC channels by the end of January, according to the Hong Kong Free Press. TVB claims that this move is to enable it to provide only “informative and innovative programmes” to their viewers. The British government has quietly restored funding to the UK’s Great Britain-China Centre, which creates space for dialogue between UK and Chinese officials. Politico reported that the British government hopes this investment will increase the UK’s understanding of China amid tensions in Hong Kong and the CCP’s security threat. Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle asked the UK Home Office how they plan to protect Hong Kong and Chinese refugee communities following the attack of protesters at the Manchester Chinese Consulate. Lord Sharpe of Epsom reaffirmed the Home Office’s commitment to create an environment for refugees to flourish in a democratic society without fear of repercussion. The Financial Times reported that Hong Kong activists in London continue to wear face masks during anti-Xi protests to safeguard themselves from CCP surveillance. The UK government must not tolerate Beijing’s efforts to censor people on free soil.

US-China Relations

The Washington Examiner reported that Xiaolei Wu, a Chinese citizen in Boston, was indicted for threatening a man who was advocating for democracy in China. The US Department of Justice shared the man’s “threatening” slogans including “We Want Freedom and “We Want Democracy.” The US House of Representatives created the Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party. Reuters reported that this select committee will focus on countering the CCP’s increasing global threat.

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