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Day 84: May 27, 2024

Live Update | Day 84 of Jimmy Lai’s Trial  Chris Patten Emphasized the Need to Stand Up for the Brave in Hong Kong

On Monday, the trial for Jimmy Lai, founder of Next Digital, and three associated companies, accused of “conspiring to collude with foreign forces,” entered its 84th day at the Kowloon West Magistrates’ Courts, acting as the High Court. The session continued with the broadcast of episodes from the “Live Chat with Jimmy Lai” series, one of which featured an interview with former South China Morning Post Editor-in-Chief Mark Clifford and former Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten. Patten remarked that the Communist Party poses a threat to the values of democratic nations and open societies, and the best response is “to continue standing up for the brave in Hong Kong.”

Jimmy Lai mentioned that Hong Kongers must keep fighting for rule of law and freedom, but he believes there’s no longer room for such actions under the National Security Law, including protests, expressing concerns that the world might forget about them. Patten responded, saying, “Many people, not just myself, are working very hard” to ensure Hong Kong’s status.

The case is presided over by judges designated under the National Security Law: Judges Esther Toh Lye-ping, Susana D’Almada Remedios, and Alex Lee Wan-tang. The prosecution is represented by Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Anthony Chau Tin-hang, Assistant Director Ivan Cheung Cheuk-kan, and Senior Prosecutor Crystal Chan Wing-sum. Lai is represented by senior barrister Robert Pang Yiu-hung, barrister Steven Kwan, and New Zealand King’s Counsel Marc Corlett, who is qualified to practice in Hong Kong.

16:33 Court Adjourns

15:59 Lai in Program Comments: China Welcomes Biden’s Presidency as He is Weaker and More Conservative

During the November 29, 2020, episode of “Live Chat with Jimmy Lai,” featuring guests Mark Clifford and retired American General Jack Keane, Lai discussed the incoming Biden administration. Lai suggested that China welcomes Biden’s presidency because they perceive him as a weaker and more conservative leader.

Lai also noted that China is a formidable competitor to the U.S., and the Biden administration’s proposed “multilateralism” would weaken Trump’s overarching policy towards China. Lai queried Jack Keane on how to draw the Biden administration’s attention to the Hong Kong issue, to which Keane responded, “Your voice and the voices of others are really important.”

15:18 Lai in Program Urges Public Not to Yield to Chinese Regime

During the program, Jimmy Lai emphasized the suppression and persecution of freedom and the rule of law in Hong Kong, noting, “The more dangerous my situation becomes, the more effectively it draws international attention to Hong Kong.” He stated that China’s rise contradicts the world’s ethical norms, revealing the true nature of the CCP, and called for resistance against yielding to the Chinese regime, asserting his continued commitment despite the risks of collusion with foreign forces and urging global support for the Hong Kong people.

Lai also mentioned that the greater the CCP’s control, the greater the rebellion it incites. He pointed out that if the U.S. imposes technological sanctions on China, other countries would likely follow suit, significantly impacting China’s economy and societal structure.

14:37 Lai in Program: Conversing with Foreign Leaders May Constitute “Serious Crimes,” But Persistence is Essential

Prosecutor Anthony Chau indicated that beyond the full clips requested by the defense, there are 17 hours of “Live Chat with Jimmy Lai” footage still to be shown, initially suggesting private viewing by the judges. Judge Esther Toh clarified that the trial is public, necessitating the public airing of these segments. Judge Susana Maria D’Almada Remedios inquired whether the footage was from before the enactment of the National Security Law, with defense lawyer Steven Kwan noting that most additional footage presented by the prosecution predates the law.

The prosecution plans to rely on only 8 hours of the 17-hour footage but will display all clips in court, expecting the process to take a week. Judge Susana Maria D’Almada Remedios mentioned that the court would not be in session this Thursday and Friday, indicating the footage would extend into next week.

Subsequently, the prosecution continued with the November 20, 2020 episode of “Live Chat with Jimmy Lai,” featuring Mark Clifford and former Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Natan Sharansky. Lai discussed the substantial risks of engaging in dialogue with foreign figures, acknowledging such conversations could lead to severe consequences due to laws targeting foreigners. Yet, he emphasized the necessity of standing firm, noting, “If I back down, many others might follow suit.”

Lai described the significant responsibility this entails as both burdensome and invigorating. He remarked, “Realizing you’re part of something greater makes you understand that your life isn’t just about you. It’s about how strong you stand; your resilience encourages others not to falter.”

12:28, during his program, Jimmy Lai emphasized the importance of international visibility, stating, “Without news, the world will forget us.” 

After chatting with two guests, the session moved to audience questions. One audience member asked in Chinese, “If you are really arrested under the National Security Law, what would you like to see continue in Hong Kong to help you carry on?” Lai responded in English, “We must keep moving forward,” adding that even if victory isn’t achieved in his time, it will be in the younger generations’ time.

Another audience member asked if Apple Daily has shifted its stance from Trump to Biden. Lai mentioned his focus is on US policy towards China, describing China as “our biggest oppressor,” and stated that if the US could communicate effectively with China, Hongkongers would be safer and more free. Another viewer humorously inquired, “Mr. Lai, how much money do you still have to lose?” Lai replied with a laugh, “It’s starting to turn around, just a bit rough in Taiwan.”

Finally, a reader asked, “On the international front, how can we support you?” Lai responded in Chinese, emphasizing the critical importance of international support because “right now in Hong Kong, we really can’t protest, our legislative council doesn’t have a different voice anymore, Hong Kong is essentially suffocating, so we’ll have very little news. If we don’t have news, the world will forget us, and we’ll really be in trouble.”

Lai appealed in English for people outside Hong Kong to speak to politicians, organizations, or on Facebook to keep the world aware and focused on the people of Hong Kong.

11:54 Lai said in program: If I am in danger, it might draw more attention from the outside to Hong Kong

During the “Live Chat with Jimmy Lai” program broadcast on November 19, 2020, featuring guests Mark Clifford and American professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds, Jimmy Lai mentioned that the more he is in danger, the greater the impact it has on drawing international attention to Hong Kong. He described his perilous situation as “the best time of my life,” and suggested that being imprisoned might even be better.

Lai noted that there is decreasing news coverage of Hong Kong globally, and he feels he should remain there and continue his efforts. With no protests and a quiet legislative council, individuals like him should step forward to speak about Hong Kong’s situation to garner more attention. Mark Clifford asked Lai if Hong Kong’s social media would be managed in a “Communist Party-style,” to which Lai responded that it’s about to happen, depending largely on the interactions between the US and China.

Lai expressed skepticism about President Biden’s approach of “multilateralism” towards China, considering it ineffective, and referenced Trump’s administration’s “unilateralism.” He urged Biden to continue the Trump administration’s tough stance on China.

11:10 Break

10:45 Chris Patten discussed the need to ensure young people do not equate loving China with loving the Communist Party

In the program, Jimmy Lai asked Patten for advice for Hong Kong people facing a different world where freedoms are being stripped away, and whether they should consider emigration among other options. Patten noted that many people are considering emigration and expressed his hope that Western countries, particularly English-speaking ones, agree to provide scholarships to young people and students wishing to learn English to study in universities in Canada, Australia, the USA, and the UK.

Patten also stated that he does not believe that the things representing Hong Kong have been permanently stripped away. The reality is different as long as we ensure that the next generation of young people does not equate loving China with loving the Communist Party. Lai further asked if Patten thinks Hong Kong has a future. Patten believes it does, but it will become more difficult, for example, seeing Hong Kong move from being an international financial center to some companies relocating their offices to places like Singapore and Japan.

10:24 Jimmy Lai states in program: “The West should emulate the CCP: embed our values and human rights into everything we do with China”

Chris Patten mentioned that judicial independence is the core of the Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration but is currently under frequent attack and destruction, describing the situation as very frightening. He quoted American scholar Perry Link, who is keen on Chinese literature, using “python on the chandelier” to describe the power of the Communist Party, “There is something big above you in the chandelier, and you never know when it will fall.”

Patten continued, hence people hardly know whether they are doing right or wrong, but if they cross a line, “this huge python will fall on you.” If this situation is placed in Hong Kong, it means that Hong Kong people will be taken to prisons in Mainland China, a concern Patten described.

Mark Clifford also asked how the world could contain China. Patten fully accepted President Trump’s confrontation with China. Another question is whether people should stand up and support the laws and international agreements signed by China, whether it be health or economic aspects, and whether they should defend themselves from China’s attacks on their values.

Lai suggested that the West should emulate the CCP, “Just embed our values and human rights in everything we do with China”, to ensure that Western values change China over time, calling this the only way.

10:05 Prosecution plays Lai’s interview with Chris Patten

The Prosecution played the “Live Chat with Jimmy Lai” program that aired on November 13, 2020. The guests include former editor-in-chief of the South China Morning Post Mark Clifford and former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten. Patten mentioned in the program that the CCP is not to be trusted because even after the regime signed the international regulations as an aftermath of the SARS outbreak, it still concealed the outbreak of COVID-19. 

Chris Patten believed that Hong Kong represents the open societal aspect that the CCP is afraid of and sees as a threat. He explained that the Chinese leadership fears for its existence under “globalization” after seeing the world’s rule of law and how it takes history into serious account, and not just the freedom of expression and press freedom that the CCP mentioned. 

Patten continued in the program, saying that the CCP has become a threat to the values of democratic countries and open societies, including the United States, Canada, Australia, and it should be stopped. “And I think the best way we can do that, or one way we can do that, is by continuing to stand up for people who’ve been so brave in Hong Kong.”   

Lai responded by pointing out that “the UK gave us liberal institutions, rule of law, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion.” And that is why Hongkongers take to the street to protest when their freedom and rule of law were about to be taken away. He continued to say that the two million protesters scared the CCP and that’s why it is enacting the national security law. 

Lai said, “we have to go on and fight for the rule of law and the freedom. But I don’t think we still have the space to do that because the national as national security law has totally intimidate people here that we can’t have any demonstration.”

Lai also said he worried the world would forget them, “you have to know, if the world forgets us, we are done.” Chris Patten says he doesn’t think the world would forget Hong kong, “A lot of people, not just me, work very hard…” to protect Hong Kong’s status. 

10:03 Court session begins

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