Like his fellow Hong Kong citizens, Jimmy Lai faces a date with destiny. A Chinese judge will decide ([link removed] ) on Thursday whether the Catholic dissident publisher goes to jail for up to five years ([link removed] ) over trumped-up intimidation charges.
Lai stands accused of purportedly intimidating a reporter at a Tiananmen Square memorial in 2017. But the evidence shows Lai should have felt threatened.
The Apple Daily founder says the reporter has stalked him for years on behalf of rival Oriental Daily News, which has published a menacing obituary ([link removed] ) of Lai. Ironically, prosecutors claim that Lai threatened the man by saying, “I have f—ing taken your photos.” The reporter, whom authorities have graciously allowed to remain cloaked in anonymity, testifies that he has suffered emotional duress since the incident.
Magistrate May Chung Ming-sun will hand down the decision on September 3. The charge of “criminal intimidation” carries a maximum sentence of between two and five years in prison.
This legal harassment comes apart from Lai’s prosecution for allegedly breaking China’s “national security law ([link removed] ) .” The ambiguous law – which allows Chinese judges to try Hong Kong citizens in violation of China’s handover agreement with the UK – could condemn Lai to life in prison. More than 200 agents arrested Lai ([link removed] ) , his two sons, and four other executives on August 10 in a highly publicized bust.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s once-free economic sector has begun to aid and abet the Chinese Communist Party’s own persecution campaign. Business associates report that Lai has had his personal and business accounts suspended ([link removed] ) by HSBC. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo noted the bank is “maintaining accounts for individuals who have been sanctioned for denying freedom to Hongkongers, while shutting accounts of those seeking freedom.” Chinese media previously warned ([link removed] ) the bank that it had been too “late” to announce its support for the sweeping national surveillance law and would need to show its “sincerity … with concrete actions in the future.”
The rest of the media have gotten the message. “A lot of people see the charges against Jimmy Lai as political,” said ([link removed] ) the chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, Chris Yeung. Lai and Apple Daily “have, over the years, been seen as one of the most vocal voices against the Hong Kong and the Chinese governments,” he noted. “The government is trying to further weaken the power and role of the media.”
Totalitarians’ oldest method of silencing critics has been to turn their opponents into martyrs, literally ([link removed] ) or figuratively – a fate Lai reportedly embraces. His godfather, Wall Street Journal editorial board member William McGurn, has called Lai “Hong Kong’s Thomas More.” McGurn, who knows Lai better than anyone in the West, beautifully described Lai’s feisty, fearless stance in the face of aggression, whether personal or systemic, in an article titled “Jimmy Lai, a Man for All Seasons ([link removed] ) ”:
[T]he faith Jimmy and [wife] Teresa share does not promise happy outcomes. It promises only that when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we are not alone. Already the Lais would tell you there’s nothing quite so overwhelming as learning that thousands across the world—people they don’t know and will never meet—are praying for them. …
In any just society, Jimmy Lai would not be threatened. But Hong Kong is no longer such a society. In its place we are left with the powerful witness of a good man willing to give up everything except his principles, even if it means trading in the life of a billionaire for the prison cell of a Chinese dissident.
Mark W. Hendrickson of evangelical Christian Grove City College ([link removed] ) shared McGurn’s assessment. “Following in the footsteps of his Savior, Jimmy Lai appears willing to lay down his life in the struggle to secure the God-given rights of his fellow man,” he wrote ([link removed] ) . “So much for the bogus stereotype of ‘greedy, self-absorbed billionaires!’”
In the same way, Jimmy Lai’s arrest has shattered the stereotype of heartless capitalist shills apologizing for China’s every crime. An international group of think tanks from 35 nations and territories around the world penned an open letter ([link removed] ) concisely detailing creeping encroachment of the People’s Republic of China against Hong Kong’s personal and economic freedom. The signatories said they “stand with the people of Hong Kong as their rights and freedoms are threatened by the actions of the Communist Party of China.” They conclude that “a strong global response is critical.”
As Jimmy Lai’s first impending verdict becomes imminent, the world must unite against his imprisonment. One can nearly hear the words ([link removed] ) of More’s antagonist, Thomas Cromwell, echoing in China’s deeds: “It must be done by law. It’s just a matter of finding the right law.”
“Or making one.”
Acton Line Podcast:
Using social media for good with Daniel Darling ([link removed] )
September 2, 2020
20200902 Acton Line ([link removed] )
On February 4th, 2004, a sophomore at Harvard University by the name of Mark Zuckerberg launched TheFacebook. At the time, the social networking website was limited to only students at Harvard. And while other social networking platforms like MySpace and Friendster predated the launch of Facebook, it was that February day in Cambridge, Massachusetts that the age of social media was truly born.
Today, Facebook boasts 2.5 billion active users, is available in 111 languages, and is the 4th most trafficked website in the world. And from there, other platforms followed: Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, Pintrest and, most recently, TikTok.
While these platforms were launched with a promise of connecting the entire world together in conversation, today they also have a reputation for fostering hate, animosity, vitriol, conspiracy mongering, outrage mobs and a litany of other negative societal impacts.
Does social media have to be this way? Or can we be better?
In this episode, Daniel Darling, Senior Vice President for Communications at National Religious Broadcasters and author of the new book A Way With Words, discusses the promise of social media, where it went wrong, what our social media habits say about us, and how we can use our online conversations for good.
Listen to the Episode
([link removed] )
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On Monday, September 7, at 7 p.m., our friends at the Markets & Morality student organization at Hope College will host a webinar lecture by Dr. P.J. Hill, senior fellow of the Property and Environment Research Center and professor emeritus of Wheaton College.
Dr. Hill will present on the topic "Stewardship for Everyone: An Economist's Proposal for Environmental Health," addressing real-world environmental issues through the lenses of Christian theology and economics. His lecture will be followed by a time of Q&A.
You can register for the online event here ([link removed] ) .
Donald Trump’s bad prescription for drug prices ([link removed] )
The final night of the 2020 Republican National Convention included powerful lines promoting the Trump administration’s drug price policies. President Donald Trump claimed that his recent executive orders on drug prices “will massively lower the cost of your prescription drugs.” His daughter Ivanka likewise said that her father “took dramatic action to cut the cost of prescription drugs.”
In 2015, U.S. Americans spent more than twice the OECD average on prescription drugs. Trump signed a price control-based executive order in July that would theoretically lower drug prices by pegging U.S. prices to those of European nations. However, the EO – and both Trumps’ speeches – run into three problems.
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