Jimmy Lai during protest in Hong Kong.

The Hong Konger: Documentary Coming to Benedictine College

The Hong Konger movie poster.

Lai Chee-Ying, also known as “Jimmy Lai,” is a successful Hong Kong entrepreneur, media mogul, and pro-democracy activist who fled to Hong Kong from mainland China as a youth. He eventually founded Apple Daily, one of the most well-read newspapers in Hong Kong. As Hong Kong transitioned from British rule to Chinese rule in 1997, basic freedoms came under attack and Lai found himself in a position to have to choose between defending Hong Kong’s long-standing liberties or his own freedom.

The Hong Konger: Jimmy Lai’s Extraordinary Struggle for Freedom, a riveting documentary on Lai’s plight, is coming to Atchison with a screening and panel discussion set for Thursday, March 21, at 4:00 p.m. in the McAllister Board Room on the fourth floor of Ferrell Academic Center. The event is free and open to the public. Following the screening, there will be a discussion with Mark Simon, who worked with Lai and served as general manager of Apple Daily, and Joseph Cella, former U.S. Ambassador to Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga, and Tuvalu. Learn more about the film.

Lai personifies Hong Kong ’s entrepreneurial spirit which, coupled with personal and economic freedom, led to prosperity for Hong Kongers and made Lai a billionaire. Today, he is in solitary confinement in a maximum-security prison, currently on trial accused of endangering China’s national security.

The film features William McGurn and George Weigel, both of whom have been commencement speakers at Benedictine College, along with Mark Simon, Lord Christopher Patten, Rev. Robert Sirico, Mary Kissel, Victoria Hui, Joey Siu and others.

The panelists have in-depth knowledge of Lai’s background and advocacy, as well as the geopolitical situation throughout the Pacific. Simon, who worked with Lai for 20 years, is still Managing Director of Lai’s Trust. He left Hong Kong in 2020 with Chinese arrest warrants hanging over his head for national security violations, subversion and various other charges connected with his democratic advocacy work. Cella witnessed firsthand the growing threat of China to the Indo-Pacific region while serving as ambassador. He is the founder of the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast and co-founder of In Defense of Christians and Fidelis (Catholic Vote). In 2023 he co-founded the citizen-led Michigan China Economic Security and Review Group and serves as its director.

Through viewing the documentary and hearing from the panelists, attendees will gain an understanding of Lai’s heroic sacrifice as a symbol of the freedom movement. From his own testimony as well as through exclusive interviews with diplomats, citizen activists, scholars and friends from across the globe, The Hong Konger makes one thing clear: Lai’s cause must not die in a prison cell.

Benedictine College

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is honored to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, the best private college in Kansas by The Wall Street Journal, and one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide. It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging. Benedictine College is dedicated to transforming culture in America through its mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.