London’s ‘colonial sleep-talking’ can’t save Jimmy Lai: Global Times editorial
Published: Jan 12, 2023 11:59 PM
Illustration: GT

Illustration: GT

Jimmy Lai's son, Sebastian Lai, has been quite active in the UK recently, trying to exonerate his father by lobbying the British authorities to put pressure on Hong Kong. It seems that his moves have had some effect. He has been received and endorsed by several British anti-China MPs. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also talked about it while speaking in parliament on Wednesday. Britain has the right to get involved in its former colony, he said, and will remain "robust in standing up to what we believe to be Chinese aggression." However, if Sebastian Lai's real goal is to exonerate his father, he will only create counter effect. 

Do these people still think that Hong Kong is under the colonial rule of the UK today, and problems, however big they are, could be settled by a word from a high-level official in Downing Street? It's been about 26 years since the return of Hong Kong to the motherland. But they are lost in the outdated colonial nostalgia and are reluctant to wake up. They have so much overestimated UK's influence on Hong Kong. 

The Lais and their gang are morally shameful and stupid in behavior for borrowing the strength of foreign influence. From the perspective of the law, their moves further proved Jimmy Lai's crime. He is charged with collusion with a foreign country or external elements to endanger national security. Now his son is offering proof for the charge.  

Recently, the HKSAR government has clearly warned that "any defendant attempting to seek help from and collude with foreign political power to evade criminal justice process is a blatant act undermining the rule of law of Hong Kong and interfering with the HKSAR's internal affairs." Those who violated it have legal responsibility to shoulder.

Hong Kong is a society of the rule of law. The national security law for Hong Kong has been in effect for over two years. Laws must be followed and lawbreakers must be brought to justice. No one can be an exception. 

The charge made against Jimmy Lai by Hong Kong's justice department and the handling of the case by the Hong Kong judiciary strictly follow legal procedures. But Jimmy Lai's gang came up with another trick, insisting on hiring British lawyers without full local qualifications, attempting to create obstacles for the trial of the case. But the explanation of the law by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress set the final tone, blocked a potential loophole about foreign interference in Hong Kong's judiciary. Jimmy Lai's gang is running out of tricks, so they have no choice but to pin the last hope on their foreign masters. 

Perhaps in the eyes of British people, the so-called right to get involved in its former colony was based on the 1985 Sino-British Joint Declaration. But Hong Kong has returned to China in 1997, rights and obligations related to the British side stipulated in the declaration have been fulfilled.

As a historical document clarifying the positions of all parties, the Sino-British Joint Declaration no longer has any practical significance, let alone constitutes an effective source of law. China has repeatedly emphasized on this issue and the UK should not pretend to be confused and use it as a basis for making irresponsible remarks on Hong Kong affairs.  

Let's put it more straightforward. After Hong Kong's return to the motherland, Hong Kong's sovereignty, and full governance belong to the People's Republic of China. The UK's intervention and interference in Hong Kong affairs is a typical example of interfering in the internal affairs of other countries. It blatantly undermines China's sovereign integrity, goes against the will of Chinese people, hurts Hong Kong's development interests, and violates the principles of international law and the basic norms of international relations. The HKSAR government has lodged a solemn protest with the British side.

London's unusual interest in the Jimmy Lai case is partly due to the continuation of its colonial thinking and habits of meddling, and partly because the case has indeed touched the sensitive nerves of external intervention forces. With the national security law for Hong Kong in effect, anti-China disruptors like Jimmy Lai were punished in accordance with the law. It actually cut off the grip of external forces attempting to influence Hong Kong, which has made them frustrated.

The Jimmy Lai case is the first crucial case under the national security law for Hong Kong, and it is conceivable that external forces are especially exerting themselves to intervene in it. But the final result must be self-inflicted humiliation. Today's Britain has no ability or means to influence Hong Kong's judicial independence.

In 2009, the British drug dealer Akmal Shaikh was sentenced to death in China according to law. The British government condemned and protested at that time, and also held "crazy negotiations" with China trying to persuade China to bend the rules. However, it is impossible for Chinese laws to succumb to external pressure. Like the fact that Shaikh was finally executed, Jimmy Lai's gang will never escape the punishment of the law. 

Politicians in London are now making a big fuss about the Jimmy Lai case, but it will have no other use than to add some evidence to his charges. They should also know that the political profits on Jimmy Lai's gang must be "delicious but hard to digest."