Lai Chee-ying, also known as Jimmy Lai, is a Hong Kong businessman and politician. He founded Giordano, an Asian clothing retailer, Next Digital (formerly Next Media), a Hong Kong-listed media company, and the popular newspaper Apple Daily. He is one of the main contributors to the pro-democracy camp, especially to the Democratic Party. Although he is known as a Hong Kong political figure, he has been a UK national since 1996. Lai is also an art collector.
A prominent critic of the Chinese Communist Party, Lai was arrested on 10 August 2020 by the Hong Kong police on charges of violating the territory's new national security law, an action which prompted widespread criticism. Lai was allowed bail on 12 August, but on 3 December, Lai was accused of fraud and his bail was revoked. The court decided to jail Lai until April 2021, marking the first time Lai has been detained. Lai regarded his imprisonment as "the summit of his own life".
In July 2019, Lai met with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and National Security Adviser John Bolton. Lai said "We in Hong Kong are fighting for the shared values of the US against China. We are fighting their war in the enemy camp."
In December 2020, Lai was awarded the "Freedom of Press Award" by Reporters Without Borders for his role in founding Apple Daily, a news outlet under Lai's pro-democracy leadership that "still dares to openly criticise the Chinese regime and which widely covered last year's pro-democracy protests." On 29 December, Lai resigned from his roles with Next Digital as director and chairman of the board.
In April 2021, he was sentenced to an additional 14 months in prison for organizing illegal protests.