Western politicians hypocritical in insisting on Jimmy Lai’s innocence
Published: Dec 24, 2023 06:56 PM
Jimmy Lai Photo:VCG

Jimmy Lai Photo:VCG

Former Apple Daily owner Jimmy Lai is on trial under National Security Law (NSL) for Hong Kong for foreign collusion and subversion. Lai, a key figure in the riots which swept the city in 2019, actively cooperated with the highest levels of American officialdom to instigate unrest, destructive and devastation in the autonomous region. 

Despite this, the Western media are comprehensively framing his trial in a misleading way. Repeatedly using the term "democracy," the press pretends Lai is a victim of state-led persecution for his own principles and gloss over the illegal nature of his activities. For example, The Economist magazine has already declared in its recent article that it is an "unfair" trial. 

This media coverage coincides with attempts at foreign interference into the case by Western politicians, who also, despite the obvious nature of what he has done, call for his release and seek to try and undermine the integrity of Hong Kong's judicial system by decrying the result as illegitimate. But really, all one has to do is ask, would this kind of foreign-backed collusion to undermine a state be tolerated in any Western country? And to that end, do we even need to ask what the outcome would be? 

The answer of course is that every single state in the world would see what Jimmy Lai has done, that is the utilisation of foreign government support in the bid to spur an insurrection with the goal of undermining the lawful sovereignty of that particular country, as a criminal act. This is of course all very ironic given the extreme levels of paranoia that Western politicians and media outlets have cultivated pertaining to alleged "interference" or "infiltration" in their own affairs by countries they dislike, yet here they cheer it on in the open in Hong Kong.

As much as they criticise the NSL, the precedent in Western countries for this kind of behaviour is the same. If for one, a Western media figure went and met with the leadership of an adversarial country and was designated a task to use his influence to spread unrest targeting the government, do you think it would be tolerated? Jimmy Lai met with many officials of the Donald Trump administration, including former secretary of state Mike Pompeo, former national security advisor John Bolton and even former vice president Mike Pence. 

He, like other leading Hong Kong riot figures, actively travelled to the US to lobby for their political intervention in the city and even to sanction their own respective governments. That is textbook foreign collusion. People in the West have been jailed for far less. If we're discussing the freedom of the press and journalists, where is Julian Assange now? He did not even actively collude with a foreign leadership, yet his whistleblowing journalism which exposed war crimes and secrets was enough to bring criminal charges upon him, and as a result he is now likely to spend the rest of his life in prison. 

On another note, the British government has absolutely no qualms whatsoever about jailing activists that it deems to have engaged in violence and who attack public infrastructure to convey their point of view, even to a lesser degree than the Hong Kong rioters did. The trend in British law has been to become harsher and harsher against protests in general, even those which are not even opposing the state or surmounting an insurrection. Despite this, Britain, as well as the US, preaches a double standard to Hong Kong that it must afford its population an unlimited right to pursue chaos in the name of democracy. The anti-state riots were cheered on by scores of US politicians, with Nancy Pelosi even proclaiming them a "beautiful sight to behold."

Three and a half years after the imposition of Hong Kong's national security law, peace, order, stability and prosperity having been restored to the city is indisputable. The claim that it needs Western backed disorder in order to thrive, or as a conditionality of its autonomy, is nonsensical, not least because amid the century and a half of British rule there was never any "freedom and democracy" to boot. Jimmy Lai's prosecution is in the interests of Hong Kong's future and to ensure the rule of law. Those who collude with foreign governments to actively incite insurrection against the state ultimately must face the consequences of their actions, and there has been no abuse of power accordingly in handling this case, or even a precedent not seen in Western countries. 

The author is a political and historical relations analyst. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn