Lai may 'expose scandal of serving Trump admin in 2020 election' with media empire: analysts

By Yang Sheng Source: Global Times Published: 2020/12/13 19:58:11

Jimmy Lai Photo:VCG

US Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo voiced their support on Twitter to Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, a media tycoon and instigator of Hong Kong riots with collusion with the US, who has been charged with "colluding with foreign forces to endanger national security." 

Experts said on Sunday that this proves that senior officials in the Trump administration are trying their best at the last moment in office to harm China-US relations and maximize the difficulties for the new Democratic administration on fixing ties. 

Officials in President Donald Trump's administration are also worrying that Lai could expose some scandals that might indicate that the Trump administration was using his media empire to affect the 2020 US election, analysts said.

According to the Xinhua News Agency, Lai appeared in court on Saturday in Hong Kong. Lai was denied bail by West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts and his case was adjourned to April 16, 2021 pending further investigation.

On the same day, both Pence and Pompeo tweeted to interference in the legal process in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).

Pence tweeted that "Jimmy Lai is a hero and I remain inspired by his stand for democracy." 

Pompeo said "Hong Kong's National Security Law makes a mockery of justice… Charges should be dropped and he should be released immediately."

Court documents showed Lai was suspected of requesting a foreign country or an institution, organization or individual outside China to impose sanctions or blockade, or engage in other hostile activities against the HKSAR or China, from July 1 to December 1 last year. 

The police will examine more than 1,000 messages and related videos of Lai's social media accounts. Lai was arrested multiple times in 2020 for offenses under the national security law in the HKSAR, conspiracy to defraud and incitement, and involvement in illegal assemblies.

Lü Xiang, a research fellow on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday that Pence's and Pompeo's tweets once again proved that the US had deep collusion with instigators of the Hong Kong turmoil in 2019 like Lai, and they are very disappointed that their support for these troublemakers turned out to be a total failure.

"Lai is a high-value asset to the CIA in Hong Kong, as he has received support from the US since the 1990s to challenge the People's Republic of China in Hong Kong" and due to Lai being denied bail by the court, "this could mean that the court and the police might have hard evidence that could charge Lai with a serious violation of the law."

A Beijing-based expert on national security who asked for anonymity said that normally, bail for suspects in Hong Kong won't be denied, so this time, according to the national security law for Hong Kong, Lai could be charged with serious crimes.

"The reason why US officials are so nervous and panic-stricken is that Lai is not a normal pawn on their chessboard, but a media tycoon who has  deep cooperation with the Trump administration and he knows many significant secrets," he said.

Apart from interrupting public order, instigating violence to challenge the government and endangering national security, Lai also used his media empire to create misinformation to support the Trump administration and smear Joe Biden and his family members to meddle in the US election.

NBC reported in October that the Apple Daily, owned by Lai, had commissioned a 64-page intelligence report to smear Biden, which "exposed the ties" of Hunter Biden to Ukraine and China. 

The report said that one of the people who posted the document is Christopher Balding, a former professor at Fulbright University Vietnam in Hanoi,  who blogs about China. Balding admitted that he had been commissioned by Apple Daily to fabricate the document.

Lü said that normally, the US will use people like Lai worldwide to instigate color revolutions, but this time, the Trump administration might use its assets like Lai to serve in the domestic election, and if Lai exposed any hard evidence, this could be a disaster for officials like Pence and Pompeo.

"With the development of the investigation and legal process, more details could be released, and if Lai's case is complex due to the involvement of a foreign country or external elements, thus making it difficult for the HKSAR to exercise jurisdiction over the case, the national security office of the central government in the HKASR could get involved to handle the case," he said.

Posted in: POLITICS

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