Jimmy Lai is a Hong Kong entrepreneur and pro-democracy activist. He founded Giordano, an Asian clothing retainer, Next Digital, a Hong Kong-listed media company, and the popular newspaper Apple Daily.
Lai is a prominent critic of the Chinese Communist Party. According to Lai, The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek inspired him to fight for freedom. His business ventures are strong depictions of his advocacy and his high-profile support for the Hong Kong pro-democracy movements has been viciously condemned by the Chinese government.
Lai was a leader of Hong Kong’s 2014 Umbrella Movement and is being accused and tried for his involvement in the 2019-2020 pro-democracy movement. Following the most recent protests, Lai was arrested on suspicion of “collaborating with foreign forces,” a charge Beijing was able to bring against him in the wake of a national security law imposed on Hong Kong following the unrest.
The same day of his arrest, approximately 200 Hong Kong police officers raided the offices of Apple Daily,seizing over 125 boxes of materials. The raid was met with high-level scrutiny — Hong Kong Journalists Association described the raid as “horrendous” and unprecedented in Hong Kong, former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten called the events “the most outrageous assault yet” on Hong Kong’s press, and the head of the University of Hong Kong journalism department called the raid an “outrageous, shameful attack on press freedom.”
In December 2020, Lai was awarded the “Freedom of Press Award” by Reporters Without Borders for his role in founding Apple Daily.
On April 16, 2021, Lai was sentenced to 14 months in prison, for the first of what will be seven trials for his support of democracy in Hong Kong. The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation awards our highest honor, the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom, to Jimmy Lai for his lifelong commitment to freedom and democracy in Hong Kong, his dogged opposition to communism and all other forms of tyranny, as well as his determination to fight the CCP’s authoritarian actions no matter the cost.