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STATEMENT: by CFHK Foundation Chairman and former US Consul General to Hong Kong, Ambassador James Cunningham

2 January 2024 - The National Security Trial of Jimmy Lai began today in Hong Kong. Jimmy Lai, a British citizen, pleaded not guilty to charges of foreign collusion and of publishing “seditious” materials. 

During the court proceedings, the prosecution publicly named several foreign politicians and activists from around the world, who they allege, have been in contact with Jimmy Lai.  These included Benedict Rogers, Founder of Hong Kong Watch, Luke De Pulford, Executive Director of the Inter Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), Bill Browder, Founder of the Global Magnitsky Justice Campaign and James Cunningham, the former US Consul-General to Hong Kong and Macau, and current Chairman of the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation. 

James Cunningham was US Consul General of Hong Kong and Macau between 2005 – 2008. He was also US Ambassador to the United Nations, Israel and Afghanistan.  

Responding to being named in court papers related to the trial of Jimmy Lai, Ambassador James Cunningham said: 

“The trial of Jimmy Lai is nothing more than a show trial. It is a sham and a travesty of justice. It exposes the collapse of rule of law and an independent judiciary in a once great, global city. Under the Chinese Communist Party’s National Security Law, the Basic Law of Hong Kong is being erased in real time in front of our eyes, just as was done with the Sino-British Declaration which “guaranteed” Hong Kong’s freedoms and way of life. 

Jimmy Lai is a highly successful businessman and journalist with many contacts around the world. He is a Hong Kong success story.  He is an advocate for freedom, human rights, the rule of law and peaceful protest, as am I.  The idea that it is a crime for a him to speak to politicians, business leaders, international media and activists, as well as myself as a former diplomat, is ludicrous in the extreme.   

Along with the other so-called “co-conspirators,” I support Jimmy and all those who are being targeted by the CCP in Hong Kong. The British and US governments, and indeed all who stand for freedom and justice, must speak louder than ever in condemning this farce, and in demanding Jimmy Lai’s release and an end to the repression of freedom in Hong Kong.” 

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