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Big Business Tycoon Jimmy Lai Sentenced To 13 Months In Jail For Encouraging Tiananmen Vigil

Activist and business tycoon Jimmy Lai was sentenced to 13 months in prison by a Hong Kong court for promoting a Tiananmen vigil, the Associated Press reported.

Hong Kong’s government forbade the vigil from happening amid a crackdown on the pro-democracy movement by Chinese authorities, the AP reported. Lai, the founder of the now-closed pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, had already been jailed for attending protests and was sentenced to serve 20 months.

He was convicted, alongside seven others for similar charges, on Thursday for inciting people to memorialize the bloody 1989 student-led pro-democracy protests, the AP reported.

Two of those convicted, a lawyer and a reporter, were sentenced to 12 and six months for taking part in the vigil, the AP reported. They pleaded not guilty to their charges, alongside Lai.

Authorities froze $2.3 million of Apple Daily’s assets in June, forcing it to shut down, the AP reported. Police also searched its office and arrested five top editors and executives, accusing them of foreign collusion.

The first pro-democracy protester convicted under Hong Kong’s new national security law was sentenced to 9 years in jail in July. The protester, Tong Ying-ki, purportedly drove his motorcycle into a group of police officers with a flag donning the banned slogan, “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s government enacted the law after massive protests broke out in mid-2019. Critics have argued the law’s purpose is to deter and inflict punishment on dissenters in the semi-autonomous state.

Beijing has also put pressure on Taiwan, a country it claims to be its territory, by increasingly sending aircraft into the island’s defense zone. Taiwan is a thriving democracy that the Chinese Communist Party has never controlled but still claims dominion over.

Five members of Congress traveled to the island in late November and met with President Tsai Ing-wen, despite threats from China.

“When News broke of our visit to Taiwan, China’s embassy demanded we cancel the trip (we didn’t),” Republican Rep. Nancy Mace tweeted of the trip. “We’ve had a productive and meaningful visit throughout the Indo-Pacific region as the first bipartisan US House delegation since the start of COVID. This is just the start.”

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