On Monday, Hong Kong business tycoon Jimmy Lai was arrested by local police on charges of conspiring with “foreign forces.” The arrest occurred while Lai was in his Apple Daily newspaper office. It is also reported that two of Lai’s sons and several executives who work for the Apple Daily newspaper were arrested when around 200 Chinese police officers raided the offices.
With tensions between Washington and Beijing already being high, this latest move to arrest Lai could strengthen the divide. Lai has long been a very vocal critic of the communist rulers in Beijing, China. The prominent businessman was known to campaign for democracy loudly and had even met with Vice President Pence last year.
Lai’s business success began with his clothing company, Giordano, which he launched following moving from mainland China to Hong Kong as a refugee in the 1960s. Following the success of his clothing company, Lai also opened a media company called Next Digital and the Apple Daily newspaper he was subsequently arrested in. In 2008, Forbes listed Lai’s value at $1.2 billion.
This most recent arrest was not the first one this year for the tycoon. Earlier in February, Lai was arrested in connection with a march for democracy; he was charged with intimidation and illegal assembly. With the arrest today, Lai is being charged under a new widely-criticized national security law in Hong Kong that seeks to place further control of Chinese media, schools, and other organizations into the hands of the government.
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