WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump on Aug. 13 condemned attacks on press freedom in Hong Kong, calling the recent arrest of media mogul Jimmy Lai and the police raid on his newsroom a “terrible thing.”
“I hate to see what happened to Hong Kong, because freedom is a great thing,” he said at a press briefing, in response to a question from The Epoch Times.
Trump’s comments came after Hong Kong police on Aug. 9 made the high-profile arrest of 71-year-old Lai, founder of local pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily; Lai is accused of colluding with foreign forces in violation of Beijing’s new security law. Nearly 200 police officers also raided the Apple Daily newsroom.
Lai, an outspoken critic of Beijing, was released on bail on Aug. 11, following widespread public support.
“I think it’s a terrible thing,” Trump said.
“We gave tremendous incentives to Hong Kong, because of freedom. We have now withdrawn all of those incentives, and it will be impossible for Hong Kong to compete with the United States.”
Trump signed an executive order in July that ended the United States’ preferential treatment of Hong Kong to hold China accountable for its oppressive actions against the Hongkongers. He also signed into law a bill that would impose sanctions on Chinese officials and entities responsible for ending Hong Kong’s freedoms, as well as banks that do business with them.
The Chinese communist regime recently imposed a national security law over Hong Kong, posing a threat to the city’s autonomy as well as the “one country, two systems” framework.
Beijing tightened its grip on the city with this new law, which criminalizes secession, subversion, terrorist activities, and foreign collusion with penalties of up to life imprisonment.
“We made it very convenient for people to go there, for companies to go there. We’ve withdrawn all of that. And the United States will be a big beneficiary from an economic standpoint,” the president said.