On Saturday, in a statement aimed at international investors, Taiwan warned of the very real dangers of doing business in Chinese-controlled Hong Kong after the city state decided to freeze the media assets of Chinese tycoon Jimmy Lai, who has been languishing in prison.
The asset freeze includes all shares in his company, Next Digital.
The development sets the first precedent where a listed company in the financial hub has been targeted by China’s ruling party vide its national security laws.
A little before the announcement, the Taiwan arm of Lai’s popular Apple Daily release a press bulletin saying it would stop publishing its print version citing declining advertising revenue and worsening business conditions in Hong Kong linked to politics.
In a statement, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said, the asset seizure highlighted the threat Hong Kong’s national security law posed to the property of the city’s people.
“It is equivalent to announcing to the international community that Hong Kong’s business risks are increasing,” said the council. “We also once again call on relevant parties to stop suppressing Hong Kong democrats, otherwise they will drift away from popular sentiment.”
In recent years, Hong Kong, a former British colony, has been rocked by protests against Beijing-backed government. To stifle dissent China imposed a draconian national security law on the financial hub.
While China’s national security law violates most provisions and rights of the people of Hong Kong, China has blatantly denied, just as it does with its concentration camps in Xinjiang, that its national security law takes away the freedom of the people of Hong Kong.
China’s ruling communist party has jailed Lai to 14 months in prison for taking part in unauthorised assemblies during pro-democracy protests in 2019.