Wed, 28 Jul 2021

TAIPEI, Taiwan: Taiwan said on May 15 that Hong Kong's freezing the assets of jailed media tycoon Jimmy Lai was a sign that doing business in the Chinese-controlled city was increasingly risky.

Hong Kong authorities froze Lai's assets, including all shares in his company, Next Digital. This marks the first time a listed firm has been the target of national security laws in Hong Kong.

Shortly before the freezing of the assets, the Taiwan edition of Lai's popular Apple Daily said it would stop publishing its print version, blaming declining advertising and more difficult business conditions in Hong Kong linked to politics.

Sending a message to Reuters, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council said seizing Lai's assets highlighted the threat Hong Kong's national security law posed to the property of individuals and businesses.

"It is equivalent to announcing to the international community that Hong Kong's business risks are increasing," the council added.

"We also once again call on relevant parties to stop suppressing Hong Kong democrats, otherwise they will drift away from popular sentiment."

Ongoing protests struck Hong Kong in recent years. Last year China imposed a stringent national security law on the city.

Taiwan has remained highly critical of the crackdown in Hong Kong, angering Beijing.
Lai is serving a 14 month prison sentence, having been found guilty of taking part in unauthorized assemblies during pro-democracy protests in 2019.

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