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Pro-Beijing media in Hong Kong denounce 'traitor' Jimmy Lai

WorldJun 23, 2021 05:14AM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Media mogul Jimmy Lai, founder of Apple Daily, leaves the Court of Final Appeal by prison van in Hong Kong, China February 9, 2021. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

By Sharon Abratique

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Pro-Beijing newspapers have ramped up criticism of jailed media tycoon Jimmy Lai, with illustrations portraying him as a "dog-like animal" and a shoe-shiner doing the bidding of the United States.

The attacks have intensified since 500 officers raided Lai's pro-democracy Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) Daily newspaper and authorities charged two executives under a national security law last week, drawing condemnation from Western countries and global rights groups..

A 24-page pull-out section published by the Wen Wei Po newspaper on Wednesday features a picture of staunch Beijing critic Lai on the front page with the headline: "Crime - Record of Awful Behaviour of China Traitor Lai at Poisonous Apple."

Inside, a drawing depicts Lai as a "dog-like animal" with an enlarged head, tiger teeth and an American flag wrapped around his four-legged body.

"Don't underestimate my tiger teeth, authentic U.S. goods they are," reads the caption.

Another cartoon shows Lai wearing an American top hat, smoking a cigar while riding a human-legged donkey with "Independence" stickers on it and holding a fishing rod dangling bundles of cash. The caption reads: "Fishing skills."

Next to photographs of Lai when he met former U.S. vice-president Mike Pence and former national security adviser John Bolton, another drawing shows the tycoon wearing a boxing glove, with an American flag design.

Next to that is the shoe-shining cartoon with Lai holding up a microphone to a person wearing trousers depicting the U.S. flag with the caption: "Big brother, just speak out any time if I'm not serving up to standard."

Lai, 73, and two of his senior executives have been charged under sweeping security legislation that Beijing imposed on the former British colony a year ago on suspicion of collusion with foreign forces, a crime punishable with up to life in prison.

Lai is in jail on charges of illegal assembly stemming from pro-democracy protests last year.

Lai has been a fierce critic of Beijing for decades and has called for other countries to take a tough stand with the Chinese government in the hope of sustaining the city's freedoms.

A centre-page spread in the Ta Kung Pao newspaper on Monday listed what it described as "100 Lies of Apple Daily" since it was first published 26 years ago, including what it said were misleading headlines and "rumours" of police violence.

Wen Wei Po and Ta Kung Pao, widely regarded as mouthpieces for Beijing, regularly publish pictures of democracy activists on their front pages and often denounce "foreign interference" in Hong Kong's affairs.

Their criticism of democracy campaigners has become much more pronounced since Beijing imposed the security legislation on its freest city after months of sometimes violent pro-democracy protests.

Supporters of the security law say it has restored stability essential for preserving the financial hub's economic success.

Pro-Beijing media in Hong Kong denounce 'traitor' Jimmy Lai

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