47 Facts About Jimmy Lai


Lai Chee-ying, known as Jimmy Lai, is a Hong Kong businessman and politician.


Jimmy Lai founded Giordano, an Asian clothing retailer, Next Digital, a Hong Kong-listed media company, and the popular newspaper Apple Daily.


Jimmy Lai is one of the main contributors to the pro-democracy camp, especially to the Democratic Party.


Jimmy Lai regarded his imprisonment as "the summit of his own life".


Jimmy Lai was born in Canton, China on 8 December 1947.


In 1975, Jimmy Lai used his year-end bonus on Hong Kong stocks to raise cash and bought a bankrupt garment factory, Comitex, where he began producing sweaters.


Jimmy Lai has kept Comitex active as a shell company since he left the garment industry for media and politics in the 1990s.


Comitex, along with other private companies controlled by Jimmy Lai, was reported to be the financial tools for his political activities and donations.


Jimmy Lai pioneered a reader-centric philosophy with paparazzi journalism in Hong Kong based on publications such as USA Today and The Sun.


Jimmy Lai's best-selling Next Magazine and Apple Daily newspaper featured a mix of racy tabloid material and news items oriented to the mass market with plenty of colour and graphics that attracts a wide range of readers, some of whom are critics of Lai and his ideology.


Jimmy Lai began publishing Next Magazine, which combined tabloid sensationalism with hard-hitting political and business reporting.


In 2020, Jimmy Lai launched an English version of Apple Daily.


Jimmy Lai launched Taiwanese editions of Next Magazine in 2001 and Apple Daily in 2003, taking on heavily established rivals who made considerable effort to thwart him.


In October 2006, Jimmy Lai launched Sharp Daily, a free daily newspaper targeting Taipei commuters.


Jimmy Lai called the Chinese Communist Party "a monopoly that charges a premium for lousy service".


China's government retaliated against Jimmy Lai by starting a shut-down of Giordano shops, prompting him to sell out of the company to save it.


Jimmy Lai had frequently faced hostility from the many Beijing-backed tycoons, including attempts to force supplier boycotts of his companies.


Jimmy Lai faced a lengthy battle to list on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, which Lai sidestepped through a reverse takeover.


Jimmy Lai managed to list the company in 1999 by acquiring Paramount Publishing Group in October of that year.


In 1997 Jimmy Lai put up the capital for his twin sister, Si Wai, to acquire numerous properties in the Southern Ontario wine and vacation region of Niagara-on-the-Lake.


Jimmy Lai attributed this business failure to overconfidence and a lack of viable business strategy.


In 2014, leaked documents showed Jimmy Lai paid former US deputy defence secretary and former World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz US$75,000 for his help with projects in Myanmar.


Jimmy Lai reportedly remitted approximately US$213,000 to businessman Phone Win, with whom Jimmy Lai's Hong Kong-registered Best Combo company reportedly collaborated on Yangon real estate projects.


Jimmy Lai is a longtime champion of the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement.


Jimmy Lai's advocacy had been expressed through his business ventures, such as distributing Giordano t-shirts with portraits of student leaders.


On 13 December 2014, Jimmy Lai was one of the pro-democracy leaders arrested during the clearance of the Admiralty protest site of the Umbrella Movement.


Jimmy Lai had been the target of hostile attacks and disturbances, including the leaving of machetes, axes and threatening messages in his driveway.


Jimmy Lai had been rammed by a car, and his home was firebombed several times, most recently in 2019.


Between July and November 2019 Jimmy Lai was able to meet with US Vice President Mike Pence and later with US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to discuss the Hong Kong protests.


Jimmy Lai later met with then US National Security Adviser John Bolton.


Jimmy Lai's case was scheduled to be heard at Eastern Law Court on 5 May On 18 April 2020, Lai was among 15 high-profile democracy figures arrested in Hong Kong.


On 3 September 2020, Jimmy Lai was found not guilty of the Oriental Daily criminal intimidation charge.


On 10 August 2020, Jimmy Lai was arrested at his home for alleged collusion with foreign forces as well as fraud.


The Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, an agency of mainland China, welcomed the arrest and called for Jimmy Lai to be severely punished.


On 2 December 2020, Jimmy Lai reported to the police station as part of his bail condition for his August arrest related to on-going national security law violation but was immediately arrested by police for alleged fraud, in that he and two Next Digital executives allegedly violated lease terms for Next Digital office space.


On 11 December 2020, Jimmy Lai became the first high-profile figure to be charged under the new national security law for allegedly conspiring and colluding with foreign forces to endanger national security.


The main evidence for those charges, according to the prosecutors, consisted of statements that Jimmy Lai had made on Twitter.


On 9 February 2021, Hong Kong's top court denied his bail; a new bail application by Jimmy Lai was rejected on 19 February.


On 16 February, Jimmy Lai was arrested while in prison for alleged violations of the national security law, including a charge of aiding activist Andy Li in his ill-fated attempt to escape to Taiwan with eleven others in August 2020.


In May 2021, Jimmy Lai's assets were all frozen by the Hong Kong government, including all the shares of Next Digital Limited and the property and local bank accounts of three companies owned by him.


On 28 May 2021, Jimmy Lai was sentenced to additional 14 months' imprisonment over his role in an unauthorised assembly in 2019.


On 13 December 2021, Jimmy Lai was sentenced to additional 13 months' imprisonment over his role in the banned vigil.


In late 2022, Paul Lam and the Department of Justice made several appeals to the court system, in an attempt to disallow Jimmy Lai from using a UK lawyer, Tim Owen.


Jimmy Lai is known as an art collector, especially known for a collection of artist Walasse Ting's pieces.


In June 2021, Jimmy Lai received the 2021 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists, and in December that year, together with the staff of shuttered Apple Daily, the Golden Pen of Freedom Award from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers.


Sebastien Jimmy Lai received the latter award on behalf of his incarcerated father.


In May 2022, Jimmy Lai was awarded an honorary degree from The Catholic University of America, for his faith and decision to remain in Hong Kong to fight for democracy.