US condemns arrest of pro-democratic media tycoon Jimmy Lai, asks China to restore Hong Kong's rule of law
Washington/Hong Kong: The US on Wednesday condemned the arrest of pro-democratic media tycoon Jimmy Lai under the national security law and asked Beijing to restore Hong Kong’s rule of law immediately
"We stand with Jimmy Lai and his sons and colleagues, and call on Beijing to repeal the national security law and restore Hong Kong’s rule of law immediately," US National Security Advisor Robert C. O'Brien said in a statement.
"We are deeply troubled by the arrest of Jimmy Lai, a Hong Kong businessman, publisher, and prominent pro-democracy advocate," read the statement.
"Two of Jimmy’s sons and several executives from his media company have also been arrested by Hong Kong authorities under the auspices of the national security law imposed by the Chinese Communist Party," he said.
Robert said Beijing’s national security law denies the people of Hong Kong their fundamental rights and liberties and increases the Chinese Communist Party’s control over Hong Kong’s internal affairs.
"These reported arrests, following the recent action by the Hong Kong government to unjustly disqualify candidates and postpone the Legislative Council elections, are the latest violations of Beijing’s commitments to the Hong Kong people and the world," Robert said.
"These arrests are also a clear effort to intimidate pro-democracy and political opposition figures and suppress Hong Kong’s free and independent media, which have played key roles in the city’s character and success," he said.
Lai is the owner of Hong Kong media companies Next Digital and Apple Daily. He is well known for his support for the pro-democracy camp.
According to the Chinese newspaper’s sources, the 71-year-old entrepreneur was arrested over alleged foreign collusion and fraud.
Hong Kong political activist Joshua Wong has already condemned Lai’s detention.
The Chinese government enacted the national security law in Hong Kong in late June.
The law adjusts security policies in Hong Kong to Beijing's perception of crime and punishment with regard to separatism, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign countries, reports Sputnik.
The legislation has provoked a backlash from the Hong Kong opposition and the West. In protest, the United States has ended preferential economic treatment for the city.