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Trial of Hong Kong journalist Jimmy Lai begins

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Trial of Hong Kong journalist Jimmy Lai begins

The criminal trial of Hong Kong journalist Jimmy Lai is expected to begin today.

Lai—an outspoken Chinese Communist Party critic and founder of the now defunct pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily—is charged with “foreign collusion” under the 2020 National Security Law. The journalist faces the possibility of life in prison over a series of social media posts, interview comments and Apple Daily articles critical of Beijing.

It is all but certain that Jimmy Lai will be convicted on all counts. In addition to judges selected by the Beijing-controlled Hong Kong government, a lack of a jury, and Lai being denied the counsel of his choice, the activist’s prominence and close connection to 2019 pro-democracy protests makes it highly likely that his trial will be unfair.

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In the short-term, expect diplomatic condemnation of Lai’s detention and convictions as a violation of human rights. Domestic protests, however, while likely, will be tempered by extensive media censorship within Hong Kong and Mainland China of the proceedings. In the medium to long-term, expect further efforts to prosecute dissidents within Hong Kong and greater restrictions on the city’s historic liberties from Beijing’s centralized control.

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