Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, a pro-democracy activist and critic of the Chinese Communist Party, has been charged on suspicion of “colluding with foreign forces” under Hong Kong’s national security law, AP reports.
Why it matters: It’s the most high-profile application yet of the draconian new law, which was brought into force over the summer as part of Beijing’s crackdown on the city’s pro-democracy movement.
The big picture: The 73-year-old founder of Hong Kong’s Apple Daily tabloid will appear in court on Saturday and could face a maximum sentence of life in prison. He was arrested and denied bail earlier this month on allegations of fraud.
- Lai has pushed for other countries to punish China for its abuses and met with Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the U.S. last year to discuss Hong Kong’s proposed extradition bill, which was later withdrawn after it sparked mass protests and unrest.
- Apple Daily described the national security law on July 1 as the “final nail in the coffin” for Hong Kong’s autonomy.
Background: The national security law includes sweeping definitions of crimes and penalties that gives Hong Kong’s government broad power to limit people’s political freedom, while explicitly denying any kind of independent oversight of the law or how it is carried out.
Go deeper: China’s iron curtain descends on Hong Kong