Hong Kong’s Security Bureau announced Friday that it had frozen assets belonging to pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying. This was the first time that authorities used the seizure powers granted to them under the new national security law.
Lai was arrested under national security law in August when authorities raided his newspaper’s headquarters. In April, he and two other pro-democracy activists were found guilty and sentenced for unauthorized assembly during the 2019 protests in Hong Kong. Lai was found guilty in two separate trials for unauthorized assembly.
On Friday, Hong Kong’s Security Bureau announced that, under the seizure powers granted to the bureau under the new national security law, it had frozen Lai’s assets. This reportedly includes USD $64 million worth of assets, including Lai’s total shares in his Next Digital media firm, as well as some of his shares in three other organizations.
The national security law has faced much criticism, including by the US. In response to Friday’s announcement, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said Saturday that the asset seizure signaled to the international community that doing business in Hong Kong was becoming risky, as the seizure highlighted the threat that the new law posed towards the people of Hong Kong’s property.