Hong Kong media tycoon to appear in court

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai will today appear in court to face charges of criminal intimidation. The charges, which

HK Reuters

Photo: Reuters

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai will today appear in court to face charges of criminal intimidation.

The charges, which allege Lai threatened a pro-Beijing reporter three years prior, are part of the mainland’s escalating assault against the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement. Despite the movement suffering a near fatal blow with the forced adoption of the Hong Kong National Security Law (NSL), Lai has refused to relent in his criticism of Beijing. In response, authorities charged Lai with colluding with foreign forces under the new law last Monday.

Expect today’s trial to end without an indictment of Lai on intimidation charges—the weak case was raised in February to intimidate protesters. Instead, attention will turn towards the new charges of colluding with foreign forces, where prosecutors will likely present Lai is a threat to mainland China’s national security. As such, Lai could be extradited to mainland China under the NSL, where he will almost certainly be convicted. In 2019, China’s conviction rate was 99.9%.

With all forms of protest banned, local elections postponed and prominent figures facing extradition, it is highly unlikely the pro-democracy movement will be able to survive Beijing’s sustained onslaught in the long-term.

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