Hong Kong’s weekly democracy protests are on hiatus because of the coronavirus outbreak, however China is seemingly hankering for extra fireplace: On Friday, it arrested three pro-democracy activists — notably, the outspoken media tycoon Jimmy Lai — for “unlawful meeting.”
That cost can cowl any public or non-public assembly that takes place with out the prior consent of the commissioner of police.
Not that the Beijing-controlled institution in Hong Kong was endorsing any public shows for democracy within the first place. It definitely refused to OK the Aug. 31 demonstration Lai was simply arrested for.
Due in court docket March 5, Lai and the others withstand 5 years in jail.
The arrest appears nearly designed to fireside up the protests once more. Lai, who splits his time between Hong Kong and Taiwan, is considered one of freedom’s most outspoken advocates in Asia. In 1995, he based the Apple Daily newspaper, a discussion board for fierce criticism of Beijing.
The mainland is erupting in fury over the federal government’s mishandling of the COVID-19 disaster. Lai’s arrest could also be a bid to warn off potential protests from Guangzhou to Chengdu to Shanghai.
Because the virus Beijing truly fears is the starvation for freedom.