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2023-12-18 JIMMY-LAI rtr.JPG
2023-12-18 JIMMY-LAI rtr.JPG
World News

'Pray for something miraculous' say campaigners for British Christian pro-democracy tycoon on trial in Hong Kong

by Premier Journalist

A Christian media tycoon on trial in Hong Kong for his pro-democracy views, has spent 1,000 days in detention and supporters say he needs a miracle if he’s ever to be set free.

Jimmy Lai, who’s 75, was born in China but is a British citizen.  He’s spent the last three years in prison, on a number of smaller charges, but now faces a charge which could result in a life sentence.

Benedict Rogers, chief executive of Hong Kong Watch, and a friend and supporter of Lai, says the devout Christian is spending most of his time in jail praying and reading spiritual books.

Lai came to Hong Kong at the age of 12.  He started as a child labourer working his way up to management before developing a successful clothing chain.  He converted to Christianity in the 1990’s, and founded the Apple Daily newspaper, which became the largest and most successful, independent pro democracy Chinese language newspaper in Hong Kong.

Rogers tells Premier, faith is likely to be part of the reason his friend is being targeted: “The Chinese Communist Party is always hostile to people of faith. They're nervous about Christianity in particular. They're not explicitly targeting him for that reason. But his whole motivation for campaigning for democracy and human rights comes from his faith. So yes, his faith is part of the reason.”

Last week Jimmy’s son Sebastian finally met UK Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron, who has issued a statement to the Chinese authorities.  Similar statements have come from the US Secretary of State and from other governments. 

Rogers says it’s helpful but should have come sooner: “If we all just ignored it, there would be a real danger that they could move Jimmy Lai into the mainland and keep him in prison there, which would be an even worse outcome. So attention and pressure like this definitely matters.”

He says speaking out against the Chinese government has cost Jimmy dearly, and he now needs prayers for “something miraculous”.

“The amazing thing about Jimmy is that he could have left Hong Kong at any moment before he was arrested in 2020. He owns properties in Taiwan, in London, and in North America. He could have gone to any of those places, but he chose deliberately to stay in Hong Kong, knowing that he might end up in this situation.

“So pray for, for him for his health, for his spiritual strength and ultimately, for his release.  Pray for his family and for something miraculous, that is hard to see in worldly terms, but it's possible through prayer.”

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