Holding HK riot leader accountable defends globally valued rule of law
Published: May 18, 2021 06:39 PM
Jimmy Lai Chee-ying is taken by the police to the headquarters of Apple Daily for investigation in Hong Kong, south China, Aug. 10, 2020. (Xinhua/Lui Siu Wai)

Jimmy Lai Chee-ying is taken by the police to the headquarters of Apple Daily for investigation in Hong Kong, south China, Aug. 10, 2020. (Xinhua/Lui Siu Wai)

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying on Monday pleaded guilty to organizing and attending an unauthorized protest on October 1, 2019. Three days before the hearing, the Hong Kong Security Bureau froze all of Lai's shares in his media company Next Digital and  other bank assets. This was legally done according to Article 43 of the national security law for Hong Kong. Moreover, back in April, Lai was sentenced to 14 months in prison for organizing and taking part in two illegal assemblies in August 2019.

Lai presents himself as a businessman, but he was never a serious businessman. Lai was first known as the owner of a media company. The media he owns - to be more specific, the Apple Daily - mainly relied on vulgar content to attract people's attention. He enjoyed the benefits of Hong Kong's development and its democracy since the city's return to the motherland. On the other hand, Lai engaged in illegal and criminal activities to create chaos in Hong Kong that later became his main business. His behaviors, in a way, have the lowest moral standard of our times.

For years, Lai has been a running dog and pawn of foreign anti-China forces. He has earned the position of proxy of foreign political forces in Hong Kong by donating money to them. He has become the standard-bearer to ruining Hong Kong's peace and stability. He is also the middleman who helped anti-Chinese forces outside the country finance local rioters.

Since tasting blood of "color revolutions" in some countries such as Ukraine and Tunis around the year 2010, some forces in the West have attempted to repeat "color revolutions" in other regions including Hong Kong. Lai was immediately aware of their attempts and hit it off with them. In 2013, Lai visited the island of Taiwan to learn about street protest tactics from Taiwan secessionists. 

Besides, Lai was behind the "Occupy Central" movement in Hong Kong in 2014, in which he not only exploited his media outlets to confuse right and wrong, and incite the public, but also colluded with foreign politicians and even made a plea for reckless interference from foreign countries in Hong Kong's affairs. Amid the protests against the now-withdrawn extradition bill in 2019, Lai conspired with foreign forces, working just like an agent for external forces. He used his media outlets to incite violence, whitewash rioters' devilry and slander Hong Kong police. He even said that he was fighting for the US.

Being a pawn, Lai should be aware of the possibility of being discarded. Lai has blatantly become a backstage manipulator of a series of social violence and turmoil in Hong Kong. As a schemer of chaos in Hong Kong, he colluded with foreign countries or forces to endanger national security, and conducted one or a series of acts that perverted the course of justice.

Western politicians who once publicly declared that they would stand with Lai, have now abandoned him - he is no longer useful to them. With the full implementation of "only patriots governing Hong Kong," the room for external forces to intervene in Hong Kong affairs has been greatly reduced. Moreover, the rioters there have depreciated in the eyes of Western politicians. 

Those who have violated the law should be brought to justice and punished by law. Lai has been convicted for violation of Hong Kong law, charged with collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security and conspiracy to obstruct the course of justice. 

The rule of law is a global common value. Just as Lai's rights after being charged, including the right to defense and bail, as well as relevant rights after being sentenced to prison, have been guaranteed according to law, his criminal activities must be held accountable by law. This should neither be disturbed nor confused by malicious noises. 

The author is a legal expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn