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When Hong Kong’s basic freedoms come under attack, media tycoon Jimmy Lai finds himself in the crosshairs of the state and must choose between defending Hong Kong’s long-standing liberties, or his own freedom. The Hong Konger, a riveting film documenting Lai’s plight, is coming to Atchison in Benedictine College’s O’Malley-McAllister Auditorium on Tuesday, October 4, at 7:30 p.m. The screening is free and open to the public. There will be a discussion with Ed Chin, a former coworker of Lai’s at his publication, Apple Daily, after the film. Read more.
Lai personifies Hong Kong ’s entrepreneurial spirit, a spirit that, coupled with personal and economic freedom, led to prosperity for Hong Kongers and made Lai a billionaire. His native China underwent a similar prosperous time by undertaking an experiment with personal and economic freedoms, lifting an astounding 800 million Chinese out of poverty. Today, it is a different story—and the stakes couldn’t be higher for Lai, the citizens of Hong Kong, and the people of China.
In reaction to China’s 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, Lai launched Next Media and published Hong Kong’s most successful newspaper, Apple Daily. As a guardian of freedom of speech and the press, Apple Daily provided an independent voice for Hong Kong following its 1997 transition from British rule to Chinese control. Lai became a leading voice against repressive policies. He could have fled but chose to stay, marching alongside millions of his fellow Hong Kongers in defense of freedom and democracy. He was soon arrested and jailed. Today Lai perseveres in a Hong Kong prison cell awaiting trial.
Featuring William McGurn and George Weigel, both of whom have been commencement speakers at Benedictine College, along with Lord Christopher Patten, Rev. Robert Sirico, Mary Kissel, Victoria Hui, Joey Siu and others, The Hong Konger chronicles Lai’s story of 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, one thing becomes clear: Lai’s fate is in our hands. His cause must not die in a prison cell—for freedom is not merely his cause, but the cause of all Hong Kongers, the Chinese people, and indeed all humanity.