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Hong Kong rose from poverty to prosperity by adhering to the rule of law and safeguarding freedom of speech, property rights, free trade, and the whole range of personal and economic liberties that made the territory one of the freest places on Earth. As Beijing brazenly violated Hong Kongers’ basic rights and autonomy, media entrepreneur and democracy activist Jimmy Lai became one of the territory’s leading dissidents and an eloquent champion of human freedom. While Lai defended Hong Kong’s traditional liberties, the authorities shut down his popular newspaper, Apple Daily, and threw him in jail, where he awaits trial on trumped up national security charges that could result in life imprisonment.

Join us for a screening of an Acton Institute documentary about how Lai’s remarkable struggle embodies Hong Kong’s spirit and about the greater implications of this contest between liberty and power. A brief discussion will follow the film.

Eric Kohn
Eric Kohn
Acton Institute

Director of Marketing & Communications and Producer, THE HONG KONGER

Eric Kohn is Director of Marketing & Communications at the Acton Institute. In that role, he works to bring Acton's vision of a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles to a wider audience.

He is a producer of the award-winning film The Hong Konger: Jimmy Lai's Extraordinary Struggle for Freedom, the newest documentary feature from the Acton Institute, released in 2022. He’s the executive producer of Acton's podcast network where he hosts the weekly roundtable podcast, Acton Unwind, and is a part-time host of Acton Line, Acton's weekly interview podcast.

Eric serves on the Board of Directors of America’s Future, an organization empowers young people to be active, civil, and curious citizens who build freer communities that lead to fulfillment, dignity, and happiness for all. For more than 10 years, he led the organization's Chicago chapter.

Prior to joining Acton, Eric was Director of Community Management at the Illinois Policy Institute, one of the nation's premier state-based think tanks. He was also the Founder and CEO of Curious Task Strategies, a public affairs consulting firm. 

From 2019 to 2021, he co-hosted Sources with Knowledge along with Joe Kaiser on AM 560 The Answer in Chicago. From 2022 to 2023, he was the interim host of the nationally syndicated radio program Beyond the Beltway with Bruce DuMont, on which he has also been a regular program guest and guest host. He previously hosted The Eric Kohn Program on AM 1530 WJJG, and has guest-hosted the nationally syndicated The Guy Benson Show, Illinois Watchdog Radio on Cities 92.9FM in Bloomington-Normal, and Chicago’s Morning Answer on AM 560 The Answer. He has appeared as a guest commentator on Extension 720 with Milt Rosenberg, The Michael Koolidge Show, WTTW’s Chicago Tonight, and on numerous TV news and radio broadcasts across the state of Illinois. Eric’s writings have appeared in the Chicago Sun-TimesThe Detroit News, the Belleville News-Democrat, and other publications.

Eric grew up in Belleville, Ill., and is a graduate of Millikin University in Decatur, Ill. He lives in Grand Rapids, Mich., with his wife and two children.

Simon Lee
Simon Lee
Apple Daily

Former Columnist and Business Executive

Simon Lee was a columnist with Apple Daily since 2005. The newspaper was forcibly closed down by the Chinese Communist Party in 2021.

Ian Vásquez
Ian Vásquez
Cato Institute

Vice President for International Studies

Ian Vásquez is vice president for international studies at the Cato Institute and director of its Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity. He is a weekly columnist at El Comercio (Peru), and his articles have appeared in newspapers throughout the United States and Latin America.

Vásquez has appeared on CNBC, NBC, C‑SPAN, CNN, Telemundo, Univisión, and Canadian Television, as well as NPR and Voice of America, discussing foreign policy and development issues.

He received his bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and his master’s degree from the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He is the coauthor of the Human Freedom Index, editor of Global Fortune: The Stumble and Rise of World Capitalism, and coeditor of Perpetuating Poverty: The World Bank, the IMF and the Developing World. He has testified numerous times in the U.S. Congress on economic development issues.

Vásquez has been a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and is a member of the Mont Pèlerin Society.

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