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Day 83: May 24, 2024

The Witness: Live Update | Day 83 of Jimmy Lai Trial: Lai Hopes for International Attention on ’12 Hong Kong People’ in His Program

Jimmy Lai, founder of Next Digital and Apple Daily, along with three related companies, faces charges including “conspiracy to collude with foreign forces.” The trial, held at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts (acting as the High Court), continued on its 83rd day, Friday (24th). At the defense’s request, the prosecution continued to play interview segments and episodes from the “Live Chat with Jimmy Lai” program.

Today’s session featured an episode from October 15, 2020, with former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz as the guest. In the episode, Lai discussed the case of the “12 Hong Kong people,” expressing hopes for international attention to compel the Chinese government to release them or transfer them to Hong Kong, stating, “We need your help, the 12 young kids really need your help.”

The case is presided over by judges designated under the National Security Law: Esther Toh Lye-ping, Susana Maria D’Almada Remedios, and Alex Lee Wan-tang. The prosecution team includes Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Anthony Chau Tin-hang, Assistant Director Ivan Cheung Cheuk-kan, and Senior Prosecutor Crystal Chan Wing-sum. Representing Jimmy Lai are Senior Counsel Robert Pang Yiu-hung, barrister Steven Kwan, and Marc Corlett, a New Zealand barrister with Hong Kong practice qualifications.

15:00 Lai in the program states: Authorities want to convey to the media ‘Work for us or face trouble’

The discussion also addressed the November 2020 police arrests of pro-democracy legislators under the “Privileges Ordinance.” Lai described the Hong Kong government’s intent to preemptively stop any pro-democracy legislators from remaining in the Legislative Council, making them feel that staying in the council would not allow them to oppose effectively.

Lai specifically mentioned the arrest of former producer Choy Yuk-ling of the RTHK television program “Hong Kong Connection,” who was arrested for searching car registrations while investigating the July 21 incident, under the charge of “knowingly making a false statement.” Lai said the message the authorities want to convey is that journalists in Hong Kong will face trouble unless they work for the government. Even simple acts like searching car registrations can be used against journalists, which he finds terrifying. Lai explained that the police actions against him or Apple Daily were because the authorities view Apple Daily as part of the “opposition,” naturally targeting them. However, the arrest of Choy Yuk-ling shows that even minor matters are targeted, reflecting a greater level of intimidation. Lai stated that the Chinese Communist Party plans to intimidate the media, educators, and public officials, seeking pretexts to arrest them across various sectors to send a message of intimidation.

During the audience Q&A segment of the clip, an audience member asked Lai about his views on Biden. Lai expressed concerns about Biden’s perceived weakness and worried that the U.S. government might seek to appease China through compromises, idealizing China, which troubles him.

14:33 Lai in the program states: Hong Kongers feel regret over Biden’s victory

During the November 5, 2020, episode of “Live Chat with Jimmy Lai,” featuring American scholar Claudia Rosett, the discussion centered around the US presidential election and US-China relations. When asked about the reaction to Biden’s victory over Trump, Lai described a general sense of regret among Hong Kongers. Lai characterized Biden as viewing China’s issues as problems that can be resolved through trade-offs, rather than seeing them as fundamental contradictions between US and Chinese systems. Lai noted that if China does not change its attitude and align with the values of the rest of the world, there will not be long-term peace. Trump’s approach, according to Lai, was to tear through the facade created by China, confront reality, and not idealize the situation.

Lai also mentioned that the pandemic has changed Americans’ perceptions of China, realizing they are facing a system with completely different values. This is evident from China’s attitude towards the NBA and Hollywood’s obsequious stance towards China, which he said Americans find annoying and humiliating.

12:45 Adjournment

12:09 Lai in the program states: Using violence in protests loses moral high ground

During the October 29, 2020, episode of “Live Chat with Jimmy Lai,” featuring American priest Robert Sirico, Lai mentioned that large-scale protests were no longer possible, and even small protests would be surrounded by police. He emphasized that without news about Hong Kong, the world would forget about it, allowing the Communist Party to do as it pleases in Hong Kong. He stressed the need for international support and attention for Hong Kong.

Lai also believed that using violence in protests would result in losing the moral high ground. The CCP does not want Hong Kong to have autonomy and freedom; it dislikes Hong Kong’s protests because they spread dangerous messages to the people in mainland China.

Lai reiterated the importance of continuing to speak out, especially if he is seen as a threat to the state. The more he is targeted and faces pressure, the more necessary it becomes for him to make his situation known to the world. Lai described his belief that they are on the side of justice in history and that they will eventually prevail. Even if imprisoned, they would feel free because they believe their convictions will one day become reality.

11:30 Adjournment

10:45 Lai in the program suggests if Trump wins, authorities would handle Apple Daily cautiously

During the October 22, 2020, episode of “Live Chat with Jimmy Lai,” with guest Jillian Melchior, a columnist for The Wall Street Journal, Lai was asked if he anticipates any crackdowns on the democratic camp or Apple Daily before the U.S. presidential election. Lai believed that, given the absence of protest activities at that time, no further suppressions would occur. Regarding Apple Daily, Lai expressed that if Trump were re-elected, authorities would proceed more cautiously, and he did not expect any crackdown actions before the U.S. presidential election.

10:10 Lai in the Program States: “The ’12 Hongkongers’ Need International Community Support”

During the October 15, 2020, episode of “Live Chat with Jimmy Lai,” with guest Paul Wolfowitz, former Deputy Secretary of Defense of the United States, Lai was asked if China would have religious freedom in the next 10 to 20 years. Lai responded that as long as the Communist Party remains in power, religious freedom is unlikely, and freedoms in Hong Kong are also being curtailed.

Lai also mentioned the case of the “12 Hongkongers” detained in China, expressing that there is limited action Hongkongers can take and hoping for international attention and support for the “12 Hongkongers,” to push for their release or transfer back to Hong Kong. “We need your help, the 12 young kids really need your help.”

The session began at 10:04.

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