The home of Jimmy Lai, multimillionaire tycoon and political rebel, sits towards the top of a hill on a quiet street in the Kowloon district of Hong Kong. The leafy avenue dotted with detached, low-rise houses is an oasis of calm in a city better known as a jumble of skyscrapers and tightly packed streets. As my taxi pulls up, I expect to see police officers surveilling one of Hong Kong’s most famous dissidents. But the only sign of anything unusual is an elderly Nepali security guard playing Bollywood hits on his mobile phone.

Lai is one of Beijing’s staunchest enemies in the Chinese territory. For years, he has used his publications, including Apple Daily, a blend of celebrity tittle-tattle and hard-hitting news, to needle China and champion free speech. During the pro-democracy protests that engulfed the city in 2019, he was at the forefront of the fight against Beijing’s creeping control of Hong Kong...

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