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Media tycoon and pro-democracy figure, Jimmy Lai, has been arrested by the Hong Kong authorities as part of China’s drive to suppress dissent against new security laws. A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK was “deeply concerned” by the detainment and accused Beijing of trying to “silence opposition”. The Times’ China correspondent, Didi Tang, warned Times Radio leader Xi Jinping would not “back down” from a confrontation with the UK.
She told listeners: “I think what they’re trying to do is to send a very strong signal to the West, to the US, UK and all of them.
“They’re saying, ‘we’re not going to cave in under any kind of pressure, we’re still going to enforce the law as we intend to’.
“They need to make sure those people in Hong Kong who want to oppose the Chinese government and, in their words, bring trouble to Hong Kong will be met with no good end.
“Their signal is: ‘if we can arrest this very high profile figure, Jimmy Lai, that means we can arrest anyone, nobody is untouchable’.”
Ms Tang warned if the situation continues at current pace, Mr Lai is likely to be convicted.
He will then probably be sentenced to jail for life as an example to other pro-democracy activists in the territory.
She said although this move won’t silence all opposition in Hong Kong, it will prompt an “all-out confrontation” between Beijing and the West.
The journalist warned the past room for negotiations and talks will not be possible anymore.
Ms Tang added: “Beijing is not going to back down, not at all.
“They want to be seen as standing up against the West so I think that’s very troublesome.
“What does this mean for international relations? What does it mean for the whole world if China and the rest of the world should be at odds on so many principle matters?”
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China’s new legislation is the most radical change to the former British colony’s way of life.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has accused China of a “clear and serious breach” of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration.
He pledged the UK Government would “honour” its commitment to Hong Kong citizens.
Up to three million British nationals in the city are now eligible to live, work or study in the UK.
Beijing defended the legislation by claiming they hadn’t broken a treaty because the Joint Declaration was only a declaration.
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